We are excited to report on our visit to the Lifelong Kindergarten (LLK) team at MIT’s Media Lab. Itamar Apelblat and I went to showcase our research project – Scratch Nodes, programmable devices for kids for use in outdoor play. The LLK team is a team whose focus is creating creative and fun learning experiences. One of LLK’s notable projects is Scratch, a platform that enables young people to think creatively, and program interactive games, stories and animations.
Scratch Nodes is a project that is both inspired by Scratch, and based on the Scratch project code. This makes programming games for the Scratch Nodes platform intuitive and fun. In the past few month, the LLK team have been working on a new version for Scratch, Scratch 3.0, which we have started using (in a pre-alpha stage), and were eager to share ideas and thoughts about the process.
During the visit we had interesting meetings with Eric Rosenbaum, Ray Schamp, and Paul Kaplan, all Senior Engineers of the scratch team. We discussed Scratch philosophy, and the current stage of the Scratch Node project. The LLK team greeted us with great enthusiasm and excitement towards our new approach of programming multiple devices from a single Scratch instance. We moved on to discussing technicalities and the limitations of our current implementation, and gained some valuable insights towards our future development milestones.
Another interesting meeting we had was with Kreg Hanning that works on the Scratch Pad project – a digital device that can be attached to physical objects and transform them into inputs for digital creations on Scratch, using motion and mechanism.
This meeting was especially interesting, as there are many similarities between the Scratch Pad project and the Scratch Nodes project, such as programming physical devices, and using inputs from motion and mechanism of the device.
We shared some insights about programing physical devices, and about the process of creating a new programmable platform. Kreg also open heartedly shared with us some of the challenges the team faced along the way, and explained them in detail so we could benefit from them while developing our project.
We discussed learning in general, and our design philosophies and goals, what our product should provide so kids could use it as a learning platform for various fields of study.
On our last day, we presented our project to the entire LLK group in a two hour session. After our 20 minute talk, we went out as a group to play with Scratch Nodes.
The LLK team showed a lot of creativity, and came up with numerous different group games that incorporated some new materials and objects to interact with the nodes.
We then continued to a gameplay feedback session, and some mind-storming.
Written by Idan David ,a third year in CS student and a Research Assistant at IDC miLAB.