My kids learn Scratch at a large school. But are bored of it.
They asked the IT crew if they had heard of PICO-8. But no.
Some thoughts after a few weeks messing around (owner a TRS-80 in the mid 80s, an Amiga in the early 90s, and coded Wingz hyperscript on NeXT for a global bank - look that one up!).
It has huge potential for educational use (and doesn't need to be open source). Clearly the ideal is for it to be a console with its constrictions, but perhaps there could be a school-kid version. A few things might help take-up.
- Can just the font/text have better resolution (as per TRS-80, unrelated to the pixels) ?
- Some keyboard interaction (INPUT, INKEY$) would be huge for kids to get feedback into their code.
- A half-bright mode (for the 16 colours) would add a tremendous amount to the brilliant 3d and vector cartridges I’ve seen here).
- A sixth screen/panel for debug. On break it simply lists variables and values and tables (which seem to be the key to LUA but are not immediately intuitive).
[I plan to edit this Blog, is there a way to stop it coming up on the forum updates ?]
I think Pico 8 is cool, and also Lua has some nice features for beginners. I have been interested in using it for education as well, but it seems a little bit 'special interest'? I think it's an awesome opportunity to teach kids about how computers used to be, but for a next step up from scratch I would recommend Racket.
Racket is in the Lisp/Scheme family but was developed with middle schoolers in mind. It's IDE is quite nice and there are versions of the main language built in for beginners, providing a friendlier and gradual approach to learning. Helpful error messages and an awesome stepper for debugging. I'm currently using it for a Girls Who Code club and it's going well so far (3 sessions in).
There's definitely elements of Pico I would love to have specifically for making games, but I think I'd prefer to introduce it once the kids have a better understanding of data structures and functions. I'm not sure but it seems like the kids with scratch experience don't necessarily have that.
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