Analytical
thinking
Active
learning
Creativity
     
Technology design.
Programming
Critical thinking.
Analysis
Leadership.
Social influence
     
Emotional
intelligence
Systems analysis.
Evaluation
Reasoning. Problem
solving. Ideation
     

In this activity you will be using Scratch, a block-based programming tool, to explore and create shapes on screen. We will guide you through using Scratch – whether you are new to programming or have had some experience – and give you all the information you need to start programming shapes to be drawn on the screen. You will then tinker with your code and change what we have given you before remixing, rethinking and creating something unique. You can then share your creations with friends, family and others in the Neurons community. 

If you can, you could join the Scratch online community and save your creations online so that others in the community can see it, play with it, remix it and give you feedback. Its free to join – and safe. 


Before you start using Scratch to create, it’s good to know what it is and what it can do.

Have a look at the short video we have created so you know a little more about Scratch 

There are some great games and animations on the Scratch website that have been done by the young people of the Scratch Community. You might want to explore some of these before starting your own project. What's great about the Scratch community is that members can take a project that someone else has uploaded, take the code, 'remix' it into something unique to them and then upload it again. This gives everyone some great ideas for their own projects. Have a look, have a play and see what you can find out.

www.scratch.mit.edu


We would really like to see what you have learnt and created at each stage of this activity. It’s also a good idea for you to record your progress and achievements so you can look back on it, and share what you’ve done with others. The link below will take you to the Neurons Creative Community. Hit “Reply” and this will create your area. In your area, note down anything you have learnt about Scratch from watching the video and that will help you to remember as you go along. It may be something you already knew or a new fact you knew nothing about. 

Visit the Creative Community


Let’s use Scratch to build a program to draw a simple square on the stage. We will give you some instructions below, and you can also follow our video tutorial which has a bit more detail.

1. Go to www.scratch.mit.edu and click Start Creating.
Close the tutorial window. 
2. Click on the option to Add Extension and choose Pen


  

3. Make your sprite 50% of its original size. This will allow you to see your shapes more clearly.
Now you are ready to start your program.


4. In the Events palette, grab the block that says when [space] key pressed and drag it into your programming area.

Click the [space] label and change it to the letter ‘S’.  

This means that when you hit ‘S’ on your keyboard, whatever program you build underneath your event block will run. 

  

5. Next, grab the pen down block from your Pen palette and join it underneath your event block.

This tells Scratch to make a mark on the stage, just like putting a pen onto a piece of paper. 


6. Now go to the Motion palette. You will need two blocks from here: 
The first, move ( ) steps, will make your sprite draw a straight line. 
The second, turn > ( ) degrees, will create a corner for your square. 
Grab the blocks from the Motion palette and join them to your program. 
Set the number of steps to 100 and the turn to 90 degrees - squares have right angled corners! 
Your program should now look like this: 


7. Repeat step 6 three more times, so you have instructions for each line and corner of your square.

Run your program by tapping the ‘S’ key and watch your sprite draw a square! 

  

8. Let’s make your program more efficient.

We can see that your program simply repeats the first 2 commands a total of 4 times.

When we code, we can use a special command to do this for us. It’s called a repeat command and we can find the block for it in the Control palette.

Click on the Control palette and grab the repeat ( ) block.

Change the (10) to (4) - because a square has 4 sides. 


9. Now, detach everything below the event block and delete 3 move blocks and 3 turn blocks.

Put the remaining move and turn blocks inside the repeat block and join that to the event block. 


10. Click on your sprite and drag it to a different area of the stage and hit ‘S’ again. Your sprite should draw another perfect square!

Keep dragging and hitting S! 


11. Now you need to create a second program string to clear the Stage of all the drawings.

Get another when [space] key pressed block from the Events palette. Keep this one as it is. Next, grab the erase all block from the Pen palette and connect it to your new event block. Now, when you tap your space bar, all your drawings should clear. 


Well done on making a program to draw a square.

Now save your program. Click File and Save to your computer. 

Now, watch the next video, which will show you how to draw a triangle and a circle.

Follow the instructions so that your sprite also draws triangles and circles.

Look at the image  for the program strings.



Well done for completing your first Scratch program. Make sure your work is saved.

Now, in your area in the Creative Community, record what you've achieved. 

You can do this in any way you like, but here are some ideas. You can choose to do one, or all of them, or if you think of another way to share thats great too!

  • Take a screenshot of your code and write a short paragraph to explain it
  • Upload your Scratch file from your computer, so others can open it and play
  • Take a screen recording of your code in action and upload the video
  • If you have created a Scratch account, paste the link to your project
Click here to go to the Creative Community


In the last exercise, you learned how to use Scratch and the Pen extension to draw some regular shapes. Keep all the programming you have done so far and try the following: 

1. Create programming strings (remember the duplicating shortcut) for two more regular shapes: a pentagon and a hexagonRemember, the number you enter in the turn block needs to be the outside angle. Here are some tips to help you: 

(a) A pentagon: this has 5 sides of equal length and 5 equal angles. The sum of the exterior angles of a polygon is 360 degrees. A pentagon has 5 corners, so 5 turns.  So, the angle of each turn is 360 / 5 = ? 

(b) A hexagon: this has 6 sides of equal length and 6 equal angles. 

2. Change some of the parameters of your programming strings to make your shapes look a little different and unique: 

Tip: In the Pen palette, you will find a few options that will effect how your pen draws. Look at the blocks in the figures below to experiment with each of them. Think about where to put them in your programming strings. Try them in different positions and see what happens. 

          

2 (continued). 

(b) Right now, the sides of your shapes (except the circle) are all set to 100 steps. Try changing this number, maybe even have a different side length for each shape.
What is the highest number you can use and still identify your shapes?
What is the smallest number?

(c) Don't forget to save your programs!


Well done for tinkering with your code. How did you find the experience? Your code, and the way your sprites behave should now look different to what you had at the end of Do This. 

It should also look different to that of everyone else's. 

Now, in your area in the Creative Community record what you've achieved. 

You can do this in any way you like, but here are some ideas. You can choose to do one, or all of them, or if you think of another way to share thats great too!

  • Take a screenshot of your code and write a short paragraph to explain it. What did you change? Why did you do that? Did it have the effect you wanted?
  • Upload your Scratch file from your computer, so others can open it and play.
  • Take a screen recording of your code in action and upload the video.
  • If you have created a Scratch account, paste the link to your project. 
  • Can you suggest other ways to tinker with your code so that others might try your suggestions?
  • It's great to record and share things that didn't quite work as you thought they would. These 'mistakes' are how we learn and improve. So, if some things didn't go quite according to plan, upload those too and explain what happened. Your mishaps might help others!

Click here to go to the Creative Community


Now you have learned how to use Scratch to draw some regular polygons (or shapes) and also tinkered with some programming parameters, it’s time to use what you’ve learned and create something unique and amazing. 

You might create some amazing patterns, or experiment with other shapes. Below are a few suggestions, but it’s really up to you to let your imagination go crazy!

Don’t be afraid to try new or unfamiliar programming blocks – sometimes the good stuff happens through experimenting and getting unexpected results!

You might want to: 

  • Explore other regular shapes, like a heptagon (7 sides), octagon (8 sides) or nonagon (9 sides) 
  • Create a whole new programming string to draw several shapes one after the other, or even all at once. (tip: explore the pen up and go to blocks)
  • Change your sprite. See our video tutorial below on getting new sprites
  • Change the stage background, as shown in the video below
  • Explore making irregular shapes or crazy patterns. 
  • Look at our example programs in the figures to the right. 
  • What do you think they might do? 
  • What could you do with them? 

   


Well done for programming some amazing creations in Scratch. It’s always a good idea to share what you’ve made and see what others have done too.

Go to your Creative Community area and upload what you've done. Include: screenshots, descriptions, how you created your Scratch project, what difficulties you faced and anything else you can think of.

We really want to see your Scratch project too, and so will others in the Neurons community. So, either upload your saved file or paste a link to it if you have joined the Scratch community.

Show your creations to friends and family. If they have also done this activity, compare your solutions and see if you can get – and give – some more ideas.

When doing this feel free to add your thoughts about your experience. What did you like? Is there anything you will do differently next time? Would you recommend this activity to others? If so why?

Click here to go to the Creative Community

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