Anatomy of a Project (Scratch)

In my work developing instructional videos on various technology-related tools, I often focus on short videos with discrete concepts so that students can access these topics as needed during their learning journey. “Need to know how to cut a hole out of a solid in Tinkercad? See this video. Want to learn about the best tool for cutting cardboard? See that video.” This learning in isolation, used for “just-in-time” purposes, makes sense when students need access quickly. But there are times when learning concepts as part of, and in relation to, a grander project is more meaningful.

This week, I developed a small experimental Scratch project on an autonomous character walking around its virtual environment. It struck me that it might be helpful to take my thought processes out in the open so that anyone could see how I approached different coding and design challenges as they arose in the making of this project. Rather than develop these single-use topic-based videos, I instead filmed the entire project process from beginning to end, somewhat free-wheeling, touching upon various topics in context, as needed, to get from point A to point Z.

The project revolves around creating a sprite in Scratch that walks around on its own. He can bump into rocks and eat bugs, and we can count how many he has eaten and how long it took. I started this project with a bit of inspiration from Seymour Papert and the LOGO programming language. With a prompt of “Forward 50, Right 90,” my thought process grew from there and resulted in the project I share in the video. While topics get covered, like variables, conditions, vector v. bitmap, they are all demonstrated within the larger view of whole project development.

Approaching the video tutorials with this mindset is quite different from those I describe above, and it’s not for everyone. However, for those learners who have some working idea of Scratch, this series can take them to the next level of thinking like a coder. (For those who are looking for single topic-based videos, you can check out this playlist.)

If this sounds like you, take a look at the Anatomy of a Project playlist, and let me know what you think.

I hope to make future video series around this idea of breaking down a project into core concepts and sharing the thought process alongside the topics. I would love to learn about other examples of taking a project from beginning to end and sharing that process through video instruction. Please comment below.

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