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Scratch workshop @IDC Herzliya: An Interview with a mentor from the Scratch Israel project

 Last week we held a Scratch workshop at IDC Herzliya, where home-schooled children from south of Israel came to program a "maze" game. After the workshop, we interviewed Sarit, a mentor in the Scratch Israel project, who attended this workshop and enjoyed helping the kids make their imagination come true. 


How was the workshop? What did you enjoy? 


I really enjoyed mentoring in this workshop. I especially enjoyed working with the children. They always surprise me with their abilities, thinking skills and creativity. Each kid is different so it is very interesting to see how each one builds a different project. I noticed great cooperation within the children -- the advanced kids are happy to help and give advice to their friends. It is also interesting to see the differences in gender, they focus on different things -- the girls spend most of the time designing backgrounds and characters, and the boys start building their project right away, usually war games with dragons.



As a mentor, how did you prepare for the workshop?



My preparation for the workshop started when I received an assignment from the instructors team. I tried to build the code according to the assignment, and sometimes, at first, I have to think for a while in order to do it right -- just like the kids. If I can’t do it or if I feel that there may be a better way to do it, I contact our great team and they help me, so I always feel ready when I go to workshops.



What were the main questions that the children asked?


The children’s questions are varied and don’t necessarily have to do with the assignment that is given to them. It seems that when they get the assignment, their imagination awakens immediately and they create an even more complex project! They asked about adding points to the game, adding text and making their characters disappear and appear again in the maze. When they asked me something that I already knew, I usually told the kid to start the thinking process again, while I throw hints for him to continue on his own. Sometimes I didn’t know the exact solution for the kid’s problem, so I tried to think of a solution with him, and if I realized that it’s too complicated, I would ask a more experienced mentor - They are ALWAYS willing to help.




What do you think was most challenging for the children? 



This is a tough question. Each kid is in a different level. Kids who program with Scratch at home, come to the workshop with a drive to program something more advanced than the assignment that’s given and sometimes they even program two projects in one workshop! Kids who just started using Scratch are more challenged when approaching the workshop’s assignment. In this workshop, where we asked the kids to create a “Maze” game, the challenge was to limit the character to the walls of the maze and make the ‘bad’ character blink. Part of the challenge is to understand how to set the correct character to the correct action.




Anything else to share? :)



I enjoy workshops very much. The kids are great and they prove that they can do amazing things. I also enjoy working with the Scratch Israel team who is always happy to help.


Education is one of the most important things that we need to focus on. This generation of children will grow and do amazing things. These Scratch projects give them confidence because they see that they can create games and animations that work well. They are also very proud of themselves and they love to present their projects in any opportunity they find.


I’m happy to be part of the Scratch experience, I believe that Scratch is great and helps children develop their interests and creativity.

Sarit, Mentor in the Scratch Israel project.