Part 1: I had a lot of trouble getting started with Scratch. For me, the learning curve felt a lot steeper than with GeoGebra. I wonder if this is because using GeoGebra is dependent on math knowledge (understanding characteristics of geometric figures for example) while using Scratch is dependent on understanding programming basics. I have done some programming, but I am not as comfortable with it as I am with math.
After I played around with it for awhile and got past my initial frustration, I started thinking about what a great tool this could be for students. Programming is a wonderful skill, not only because it’s involved in so many areas of a tech-driven world, but also because programming makes you think in algorithms, which is an excellent problem solving strategy that can be applied to many areas of life. What I like about Scratch is that it makes programming accessible to students without relying on knowledge of a specific programming language. That gives them the chance to get in there and play around while learning the basic concepts of how to think like a programmer without requiring any specialized programming knowledge, which I think is awesome.
Part 2: After a lot of stopping and starting and exploring some of the tutorial videos, I managed to make Scratch walk in a square. Once I discovered the pen tool, it made it a lot easier, so I began playing around with other shapes. I tried making a pentagon, and then I had the idea of constructing different regular polygons. I wanted it to be dynamic in some way so I created an applet that it asks the user to input a positive integer and then constructs a regular polygon with that many sides, which can be found here.
Creating this applet involved understanding the characteristics of regular polygons, such as the measure of each angle. I wanted each polygon to be roughly the same size and I wanted it to be centered on the screen, both of which involved understanding geometric concepts. In the end, it required math knowledge/learning on my part as the creator, but not much for the person using the applet.
My initial impression is that GeoGebra applets can easily illustrate a lot of mathematical concepts for the user while Scratch applets are more about the creator learning and understanding physics, math, programming, etc. I was looking at some of the applets on the site and it seems like the goal of a lot of the output is to create games where the user plays for fun rather than learning. For example, this applet models the velocity vs. time and displacement vs. time graphs together and shows the relationships between the two. I thought it was a pretty interesting model since it shows how changing the position changes the velocity, and understanding the relationship between functions and their derivatives is a very important concept in math and physics. It’s a model that I think could be helpful for learning these ideas, but a lot of the comments from users are along the lines of, “I don’t get it, how do you play this game?”
Like Megan, I am also waiting for approval for my ScratchEd account so that I can complete part 3. I am very interested to read about the different ways educators are using Scratch with their students.