ScratchJr Research Project
ScratchJr is a project led by Prof. Marina Umaschi Bers and her DevTech Research Group at Tufts University and by Prof. Mitch Resnick from the Lifelong Kindergarten at the MIT Media Lab. It is funded by the National Science Foundation.
The ScratchJr project aims to develop and study the next generation of innovative technologies and curricular materials to support integrated STEM learning in early childhood education. We are developing, implementing, and evaluating a new version of the Scratch programming language, ScratchJr, designed specifically for early childhood education (K-2).
ScratchJr has three components: 1) a developmentally appropriate interface; 2) an embedded library of curricular modules with STEM, math, and literacy content to meet federal and state mandates in early childhood education; and 3) an online resource and community for early childhood educators and parents.
The learning outcomes we are targeting with ScratchJr are grouped in three areas:
- Discipline-specific knowledge: With its open-ended project-based platform, ScratchJr will target national and state early childhood frameworks for math and literacy as well as be used to create projects to integrate other domains, especially STEM.
- Foundational knowledge structures: ScratchJr will engage children in building foundational knowledge structures applicable across domains, such as sequencing, causality, classification, composition, symbols, patterns, estimation, and prediction.
- Complex problem-solving skills: In the process of creating interactive projects with ScratchJr, children engage in problem-solving skills that are related to the engineering design process, the software development cycle, and the scientific method, and which can be applied across domains.
Children in kindergarten through grade 2, compared to children in older grades, have many fewer powerful educational technologies available that specifically take into consideration what is developmentally appropriate in terms of interface as well as what is needed to improve educational outcomes. ScratchJr will provide such a technology.
Phase 1 - complete!
Phase 2 - complete!
- Data collection from children and early childhood teachers on the use of the existing Scratch tool in kindergarten through grade 2
- Development of the first ScratchJr prototype
- Development of curricula to support integrated use of ScratchJr in classrooms
Phase 3 - in progress!
- Pilot testing of the initial ScratchJr prototype and revision of the technology
Data collection on classroom use of the revised ScratchJr prototype as well as curriculum modules
- Further redesign of the prototype and curriculum modules based on classroom implementation
- Development and pilot testing of a virtual community for parents and early childhood teachers interested in using ScratchJr with children
- Data collection on classroom use of the latest ScratchJr prototype and curriculum modules
- Further redesign and optimization of prototype for tablet use
- Development of larger library of curriculum modules
- Implementation of tablet-based version of ScratchJr and curriculum modules in a wider range of schools
- Final revision of ScratchJr software and curriculum
- Development, piloting, and revision of online resource forum for early childhood teachers and parents using ScratchJr at school and at home to support learning
- Public release of ScratchJr
Flannery, L.P., Kazakoff, E.R., Bontá, P., Silverman, B., Bers, M.U., and Resnick, M. (2013). Designing ScratchJr: Support for early childhood learning through computer programming
. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1-10. DOI=10.1145/2485760.2485785
Kazakoff, E.R., & Bers, M.U. (2013). Designing New Technologies for Early Childhood: Results From the Initial Pilot Studies of ScratchJr. Poster presented at SRCD Society for Research in Child Development
, 18- 20 April 2013, Seattle, Washington.