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Using graphing / data visualization as a Playground for Literacy and Mathematics. @ sparkfun #nsta14. Scratch-ing the Surface of Programming and Enhancing Science. Using graphing as a Playground for Literacy and Mathematics. Brian Huang, Linz Craig, Derek Runberg

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Using graphing / data visualization as a Playground for Literacy and Mathematics


scratch ing the surface of programming and enhancing science

Scratch-ing the Surface of Programming and Enhancing Science

Using graphing as a Playground for Literacy and Mathematics


Brian Huang, Linz Craig, Derek Runberg

@bri_huang @sparkfun


Before we move any further, let’s make sure that we all know each other in this room?

Please introduce yourself to the person(s) sitting in your general vicinity. Tell them a few things about yourself, maybe:

  • where you’re from
  • what you teach
  • why you’re here
  • what you hope to get out of this….
  • Introduction to Scratch, History
  • A few basic functions
  • Draw and graph
  • PicoBoard
  • Adding more functions
about us
About Us

At SparkFun, our focus is all about creation, innovation, and sharing information.

Open Source Hardware is at the core of our business. We emphasize researching,re-mixing, adapting, making improvements, and sharing with the world!

  • MIT Media Lab / Life-long Kindergarten Lab
  • Out growth of Seymour Papert
a few things
A few things..
  • Free,
    • Download version 1.4
  • Open source
  • Create games, animations, & interactive environments
  • Interfaces with hardware: Picoboard, Makey Makey
elements vocabulary
Elements \ Vocabulary
  • Sprite / Costume
  • Stage / Background
  • Script / Blocks

Sprites are the objects that perform actions in a project.

These may be characters, objects, or itemsto be manipulated.

Default sprite is “Scratch” the cat!

sprite costumes
Sprite / Costumes

A costume is one out of possibly many "frames" or alternate appearances of a sprite.

Sprites may change their look to any of its costumes.

Use this feature to create animations - similar to a flip-book or stop motion animation.

stage background
Stage / Background

The stage is a background or a “back-drop” for your project..

You can paint, import, or take a photo as your background.

Multiple backgrounds may be used to create different scenes for a story or levels in a game.

stage background1
Stage / Background

Grid space for the stage is setup with a standard Cartesian coordinate system.

The origin - (0,0) is in the center.

Extents are:

X: -240 to +240

Y: -180 to +180

scripts blocks
Scripts / Blocks

Attributes of the sprite and the stage can be manipulated using a script or set of instructions.

A script consists of a set of blocks that are “strung” together.

Blocks are organized into 8 separate “bins” by how it affects the sprite →

training wheels 8 blocks
Training Wheels – 8 blocks
  • Modify your Sprite / Costume and the Stage / Background.
  • Use any of the 8 blocks (or copies of the blocks) to introduce yourself to the class.
  • Right-click on any block and select duplicate to make a copy.
creating a sprite
Creating a sprite

The paint tools in Scratch are standard

hat blocks
Hat Blocks

Hat blocks all start with the key word “when”

Hat blocks define the beginning of a script.

Any blocks attached to this will execute (run) when the event XXXX occurs.

so why scratch what else can it do
So, why Scratch? What else can it do?
  • Presentations
  • Animations / Simulations


initialize the position of the sprite
Initialize the position of the sprite

Recall: Grid space is

X: -240 to +240,

Y: -180 to +180

introduce a loop or forever
Introduce a loop or “forever”

Blocks can be placed inside the “forever” bracket.

Any and all code blocks inside this will repeat over and over… forever…

pen feature s
Pen feature(s)

As the sprite moves across the screen, it can place a “pen” down to trace it’s motions.

This feature can be used to sketch simple shapes, plan out maps, or graph data…

setting up the pen to draw
Setting up the pen to draw

Rationale / pseudo-code:

  • Start / go to origin
  • Clear screen
  • Pen down
    • Increase x
    • Repeat
adding a y control
Adding a “y” control

For fun, let’s tie the y-axis to the mouse

(notice that the blocks are of different colors…)

using the sensors
Using the sensors
  • Right click or ctl click for the menu
a little math
A little math…

Sensor readings range: 0 – 100.

Scale the number to fit our widow using two points: sensor = 0, y = -180 ; sensor = 100, y = +180

advanced timing and data output
Advanced – Timing and data output

Introduce timer object  reports # of seconds from start of program or since the “reset timer” block was called.

advanced timing and data output1
Advanced – Timing and data output

Scaling the timer  480 pixels (points) in the x-direction.

now what
Now what?
  • Interested in professional development? Want to learn more?
    • Check-out our SparkFun Inventor’s Kit (SIK)
    • Also sold as a lab-pack for schools
    • 15 complete circuits with a full-color experiment guide.
    • Guide is available as a PDF.
  • Teacher Prof. Dev Workshops available:
    • Contact:


twitter: @bri_huang, @sparkfun, #nsta14

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