Mobile Computing

MIT, Tufts U Partner with PBS on Coding App for Elementary Students

The MIT Media Lab, Tufts University and PBS Kids have teamed up to release a free app based on the ScratchJr coding language and designed to help kids aged five to eight learn coding concepts.

"With the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app, kids can snap together colorful programming blocks to make their favorite characters move, jump, dance and sing," according to a news release from MIT. "In the process, they learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively. The free app is now available from the App Store on iPad and from the Google Play store on Android tablet."

To support the app, the Verizon Foundation, the Ready To Learn Initiative and PBS stations will work with Title I schools. Verizon will also develop afterschool programs and a weeklong summer camp, while PBS stations will provide professional development designed to help teachers integrate the app with their classrooms.

"To help ScratchJr learners get more out of the programming language, Media Lab alumna Professor Marina Umaschi Bers, director of the Developmental Technologies Research Group at Tufts University," and Mitchel Resnick, Lego Papert professor of learning research at MIT, "have co-authored 'The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code,' released in November," according to information released by MIT.

"We see coding as a new way for people to organize, express and share their ideas," said Resnick, who is also head of the Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten group and director of its Scratch team, in a prepared statement. "Coding is not just a set of technical skills, but a new type of literacy and personal expression, valuable for everyone, much like learning to write."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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