After school lets out on Fridays at the Jonas Clarke Middle School , two dozen boisterous students descend on the computer lab to fiddle with the computer code that powers their projects, from a "Star Wars" lightsaber duel to a flying hippo animation.
The school has been beta-testing Scratch, a new programming language being released today by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. The program, named after the technique hip-hop DJs use to mix music, gives novices the ability to create dynamic programs without wading through a manual, teaching computer programming concepts while encouraging students to play.
The goal: turn a daunting subject usually taught in college and considered the domain of geeks into an integral part of education for the grade-school set. MIT researchers hope the program will promote a broader cultural shift, giving a generation already comfortable using computers to consume content online a set of new, easy-to-use tools to change the online landscape itself.
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