Tynker vs. Scratch: What Is Best For Your Young Coder?
Today’s young coders have a variety of tools available to learn how to code. For young children aged five to 10, block programming is the best way to understand some of the most basic concepts of programming.
However, even for something as simple as block coding, there are several languages and different platforms.
In this article, we’ll compare Blockly and Scratch. But before we do that, let’s quickly talk about block coding, in general.
What is Block Coding?
Block coding or block-based coding is a coding environment designed for kids, where they use a drag and drop mechanism to create games and animated stories from blocks. These blocks have code in the back, but the user doesn’t need to write any code. They only need to work with the blocks to create the project.
Blocks represent a set of instructions in code. So blocks basically provide a more visual way to create programs. The element of games and stories makes them fun for kids to try out while they learn core concepts like if and then or counter loops.
The blocks can determine an action, sound, or effect. Usually, these blocks work in correspondence with a character in a game or story.
What is Blockly?
With the help of Blockly language, users can create applications that can even be translated into higher-level text-based programming languages like Python or Java.
What is Scratch?
Scratch is a block coding language and platform from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. It’s also built from Google’s Blockly library and is completely free to use as a web-based coding platform for kids.
Kids as young as eight can create an account for free and start using the Scratch editor to create fun projects.
As it’s based on Blockly, it has visual blocks that kids can drag from the editor to make the character do things. It also has tutorial videos for kids to learn how to use the coding environment every step of the way.
For kids even younger than eight, there’s another version, the ScratchJr. This is even simpler and basic, so very young kids can start dabbling with coding with blocks before moving on to Scratch.
Blockly vs. Scratch: What is the Difference?
There’s not much of a difference between Blockly and Scratch. Blockly is the language or library that provides block coding editors that are used in so many applications today, including Scratch.
Blockly itself is not really for kids, but for developers to make languages and coding environments for young coders. Scratch is one such web-based platform that offers an easy and fun coding learning environment for kids.
So that’s a major difference between the two. Scratch, as a coding language, is partly based on Blockly.
However, Scratch isn’t entirely based on Blockly, or at least not always. It wasn’t until Scratch 3.0 that the MIT Media Lab incorporated blocks using Blockly. It was a collaboration between Google’s Blockly team and Scratch’s team that led to the incorporation of the two block coding languages together.
Aside from Scratch, there are many other platforms and applications based on Blockly that kids can use to learn coding basics. Code.org and MakeCode by Microsoft are also based on Blockly.
Of course, kids cannot really use Blockly directly as it’s just a library and editor that must first be incorporated into a website or application. However, they can benefit from the many courses built from it, many of which are free. Scratch is also a free platform.
If we just compare applications that are based on Blockly and Scratch, the latter has a more user-friendly design and flow. First off, it’s a web-based platform, so it can be accessed from any device. There are apps as well for Android and Mac, so kids can directly work through the Scratch application.
Benefits of Scratch
Scratch’s tutorials and guides make it a lot easier for the young ones to learn what each block means and how they can create stories or games with those blocks. Blockly alone may not be intuitive enough for a kid to figure out everything on their own.
Overall, its interface offers the ease of use young kids need. If a programming course is too difficult or mundane in nature, kids won’t want to use it again. So Scratch carefully strikes that balance between learning and fun.
Of course, Blockly, as a language, has contributed to making those blocks virtually bug-free. Nevertheless, the Scratch team’s years of experience creating programs for kids to learn coding has lent the tool remarkable ease that may be hard to find elsewhere.
And it doesn’t hurt that the tool is completely free. There are a lot of coding courses online, but most have some sort of fee.
All that said, as the kids advance and master block coding, they will need to find other platforms where they can move to languages used in the real world. Unfortunately, both Blockly and Scratch don’t provide any such courses other than the block-based coding ones.
Blockly is just the tool with which many block-based coding programs and apps are built. On the other hand, Scratch is a full-fledged learning environment based on Blockly as well for its vibrant blocks.
For learning purposes, Scratch is a great option, and it’s suitable for kids aged eight and above. However, if you want to try Blockly, in particular, there are several other options as well. You can also try Tekkie Uni, which also has a course for Scratch that makes it even easier to learn with the help of a teacher.