Computational Thinking


Fifth grade students at Manchester Academic Charter School using Scratch

With the Hour of Coding just around the corner I wanted to put in my two cents. For over 25 years I’ve witnessed the power of what I call “creative production.” Beginning in the 1980s I challenged students to not only program using the Logo language, but to use the metaphorical power of the Logo turtle to create stories, illustrations, and other creations. Today I see students enthralled by the power of scripting languages, like Scratch. Kids love to create. We don’t give them enough opportunities. However, coding takes the act of creating a step further. Today it combines the creative element with design. I think that’s the piece that was missing in the Logo era. Students were working with a difficult language that required special knowledge to design games or write interactive stories. Today kids can transparently delve into the creative power of the coding.

I’m working with the South Fayette School District as an outreach coordinator for a computational thinking project. For the first semester we have fifth grade students using Scratch to create their own games. Kids love to play games, but they lack the critical perspective to understand what makes a good game. By designing their own games they are now learning how to evaluate games. I’m excited to see the final projects and hear what the students learned from the experience.

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