Scratch 3

As many of you know, I have been spending a fair bit of my time on K12 Computer Science Education over the last decade. The good news is that over that time period, there has been massive progress in getting computer science into our K12 schools in the US.

And if I had to pick one single thing that has been the biggest catalyst for that, I’d point to Scratch, the brainchild of Mitchel Resnick and his Lifelong Kindergarten lab at MIT’s Media Lab.

Yesterday was a big day for Scratch, and therefore, for K12 CS Education around the world. The Scratch team launched Scratch 3, a major release which brings a number of important new features and functions to Scratch. Here is the Scratch Team’s blog post on Scratch 3.

The three big improvements to Scratch in this new release are:

1/ Scratch everywhere. It used to be that you could only run Scratch in a browser. Now you can run it on touch devices like tablets. This is a big deal as many early elementary school classrooms tend to use tablets not computers.

2/ Extensions. The Scratch team has made Scratch extensible via a new element called Extensions. Examples of Extensions are the Lego Mindstorms Extension, or the Google Translate Extension, or the Amazon Text to Speech Extension. I am excited to see all of the amazing Extensions that will get built using this new feature.

3/ New characters, sounds, and backgrounds. Most kids use Scratch to build games, animations, and other fun experiences. Scratch is fun!!! So Scratch 3 brings a massive expansion of creative elements that kids can use to create the things they want to make.

Obviously Scratch can’t and won’t be used to make things like operating systems, machine learning models, transaction processing systems, etc, etc. But the people who will be building those things in the next ten years will have likely gotten into programming via Scratch.

Scratch is the on-ramp to computational thinking, coding, programming, and whatever word you want to describe the essence of computer science education. It makes something that seems so daunting really fun and approachable. And that is why I think it is the single biggest catalyst for K12 Computer Science Education.

And it just got a lot more fun and a lot more powerful.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. JLM

    .Well played. It’s lovely to see a plan come together, take shape.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  2. Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk

    Totally agree. Would also like to highlight the Microbit extension. The immediate feedback works great with kids in a coding club where I teach from time to time. In fifteen minutes, they have a game using the Microbit as the controller!

  3. iggyfanlo

    Fred(Not pandering at all)… Your genuine and sincere passion for this project jumps off the page. Cool to see/read

    1. JLM

      .A little pandering is OK.Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. awaldstein

    Terrific.Whenever you post on this topic which such unrestrained enthusiasm, it makes me think of my father.PhD in physics who decided not to enter industry when home after the war, but to teach science to kids in the high school he attended as a kid. It was his way out of poverty and he wanted to give it to others.He would have loved this project of yours and volunteered to help out.

    1. Adam Sher

      When childhood education is experiencing a net outflow of teachers as the US currently is, how do you encourage more people like your father to enter? Le sigh.

      1. awaldstein

        Damn–I don’t know.One of my brothers, one of his kids are public school teachers so a large part of it was cultural. And nothing could have been more beneficial than being raised in an immigrant, lower middle class family with strong belief in working hard, being a burden on no one and taking care of your family and community.Lucky me is how I think.

    2. JLM

      .We are compensated in multiple ways — money, ego enrichment, self esteem nourishment, and a measure of the nobility of our lives.The wealthiest people amongst us are those whose lives are measured in the nobility of what they have done — teachers may take the first position in that queue.I have a friend who has this rant about the “good, special kind of tired.”He used to drag me along to Habitat for Humanity builds. When we would come up short of some material — nails, 2x4s, he would say, “Order it from the lumberyard for immediate delivery. I brought the wallet with me.”It used to tickle me. Of course, I paid for it.On the way home, he’d say to me, “Let’s go get a cheeseburger (The Tavern on Lamar Blvd) and revel in that special kind of tired. We did something good today. Doesn’t it feel good?”He was right. There is noble stuff we do that is more important than any measure of money, self esteem or ego.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Yes, put in 20 good hours on such a thing — in hacker culture, in coding, “get into the zone” where have all the parts and pieces right at hand, fueled up on sugar, caffeine, and pizza, can see how the code goes, type it in, run it, catch the bugs, fix them, get ir running, type in some notes of documentation, declare it DONE — but need a lot of extra sleep for the next day or two! Can wake up really pooped out from such a 20 hour thing!

  5. kidmercury

    do you guys have any KPIs for these initiatives? a recent fascination of mine has been cognitive sorting (smart people increasingly hang out only with other smart people, and the impact of this). i’ve come to believe that cognitive sorting has some unfortunate social consequences, but is vital to technological innovation (i.e. google and facebook succeed to some extent because, to put it bluntly, they keep less intelligent people out).in china they are targetting kids with AI/ML talent and grooming them accordingly from childhood. this will be uncomfortable to many, myself included, but i believe that this kind of approach, especially if it does not hinder creativity in the process but rather helps it, is likely to be immensely successful.i feel as though there is a proper way to utilize cognitive sorting without having such deleterious social and moral consequences. my hunch is that such a process would need to clearly define success metrics and measure them, probably through longitudinal surveys of some kind.

    1. LE

      vital to technological innovation (i.e. google and facebook succeed to some extent because, to put it bluntly, they keep less intelligent people out).I think it’s more that they succeed in spite of the fact that they keep less intelligent people out. [1] By the way how do you figure out ‘intelligence’? What are you using? Are you thinking it has to do with academic achievement and/or test scores or the way someone speaks or their interest?That said I was harping on my wife to send my stepson this summer to a program at Stanford which he was invited (courtesy of ETS) to apply to. She keeps thinking it’s about the education. She shows me a program at Brown that has better courses same cost. I can’t get her to understand (I am almost there) that it’s not about the education. It’s about being around the right-er type of people in the better environment. Not about what you learn. If you want to learn you can do that by commuting from our house.The Stanford program for 8 weeks in the summer comes in at over $20k if you figure in the cost of the parents going out to Stanford and setting the kid up, hotels, travel and so on. Nice inclusive program? You can do that if you are either super poor or rich but not in between. They make it very clear on the website. The cost is stated in some of the largest type I have seen. As if to say ‘stay away if you are not cut from the right cloth or smart enough to be disadvantaged and know you can get in for free).What are parents buying here? The Stanford experience which includes having your child around other kids who have parents that push and give them these types of opportunities. That is what you are getting for the money.[1] Having people with what I have called ‘puny brains’ is really essential and more so than or equal to ‘diversity’. You need dumb people to make a consumer product. Lack of dumb people means you come up with the VCR remote that only an engineer could love. Or a Microsoft product. Or disqus putting some stupid icon that nobody sees in the upper right hand corner (same line as your name) that does something. There is an endless list of these things that exist as a result of people not incorporating ‘normal thinking people’ when they design products. Steve’s telephone is successful because he understood the puny brain. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. Adam Sher

        You’re on fire today

      2. kidmercury

        i think IQ is a valid measure of general intelligence, though there may be others. in fact, the whole field of measuring general intelligence is probably worth greater collective investment from society.

        1. Adam Sher

          Nassim Taleb recently wrote on Medium that the IQ test was developed to test for cognitive deficiency. As such, the test should not be used to test for superlative cognitive ability. I haven’t verified this so take his opinion with a grain of salt.I suspect IQ measures don’t predict anything but there is a correlation between IQ that is multiple standard deviations above the mean and those who are most productive at the PhD level.

        2. JLM

          .More success is attributable to the “I Will” than to the IQ.We are slowly breeding I WILL out of our children by the soft and easy life we give to them.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. kidmercury

            intelligence is a lot like athletics. if you are 6’7″ and have a lot of will, you might be a wing in the NBA. if you are 5’10″…..well, i hope you enjoy pickup games. at that height, the odds of being the next kawhi are way too low. NBA scouts know this, as does anyone willing to be honest with themselves. with IQ, you need a base level to compete at a high level – otherwise you’ll get blown out. in my opinion this is a real social problem that needs to be addressed in some way.

          2. JLM

            .Point made.I think there is something else — raw effort. Hustle. Street smarts. Cleverness. People skills.I was a truly mediocre high school student. When I went to VMI, I had no choice but to study. I was #1 in my class and I was studying engineering competing against the English and History majors.I had a first classman who I was assigned to as “chattel” and he forced me to study. I had a faculty adviser who came by to check on me three times a week.When I received my year end grades, I was the most surprised person on the planet. My father called VMI to ensure there was no mistake. It woke something up in me.After that, I aspired to be #1 in anything I undertook — EOBC, Ranger School, EOAC.When I was in the Army, the guys who excelled were good with people, physically rigorous, and comfortable in their own skin. You had to be willing to give an order and make it stand. Soldiers had to believe it was infinitely worse to disobey than it was to obey.It took some time and training to obtain that level of command.In business, I always used to say, “That sound you hear in your driveway at 2:30 AM? That’s me getting up earlier, staying later, working harder, eating out of your chili bowl, mate.”I used to demand all of my people take formal training on negotiations. I used to teach a class on Thursday and Friday mornings at 7:00 AM. It was voluntary. Everybody used to come. I could see them getting better.We discount the impact of hustle in America today.Still doesn’t overcome that 6’7” point guard thing. If I ever could have played in a game like I could in practice . . .JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Rob Larson

            There’s another thing about IQ that I think is not well understood: the ability to stretch and grow your cognitive abilities. I don’t mean just learning new things, but also your physical capacity to reason things out.Example: I was a physics major back in college. Physics (and the advanced mathematics required to do college level physics) didn’t come as easily to me as it did to others in my class, but i chose the major it because I found it interesting. And I didn’t mind spending hours and hours every day in the physics homework lab with my classmates trying to puzzle the problems out (enough to get A’s in all my physics classes).The interesting thing is that I graduated a smarter person than I was when I entered college. I could reason through highly abstract and complicated phenomena, in all areas of life, much more easily than a few years before. I could feel it happening during my studies, a physical sensation of my mind getting stretched and strained as I worked to internalize what it meant for a differential equation to mathematically model heat dispersion, or differential geometry for relativistic electrodynamics. It felt strange – i suppose it was neurons growing and connecting or something.I never felt that “mind stretching” sensation any other time – not in high school, not getting an MBA at Wharton, not learning economics or accounting or strategy, not even in freshman/sophomore physics classes – I only felt it while struggling to understand upper-level physics classes.The conventional wisdom on IQ is that it is relatively constant over your life. But I think that’s because the vast majority of people don’t really push themselves mentally hard enough to stretch their mental capacity beyond what is comfortable to them.I think that we don’t encourage kids enough to challenge themselves with coursework that will be conceptually challenging to them, but which can increase their cognitive capacity.

          4. JLM

            .No question about it.When you build high rise office buildings and somebody brings you a problem, you immediately remember that you are placing a new floor every 6 days, you have to fly the forms from the lower floor to the upper floor 3 days before the placement, and it takes two days to install the reinforcing steel.You better make good decisions, fast, because you are spending a huge amount of money every week.You learn how to make decisions under pressure. You get smarter.Same thing in the military, they run you through “what now lieutenant” courses and you are forced to solve team problems fast.I’ve told this before — in Ranger School they tell you, “You have two heartbeats to make a decision, lieutenant. On the third heartbeat people start dying. You could be one of them.”A lot of people make better decisions under pressure because they’re more focused.There are 65 different measures of IQ.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. Rob Larson

            I love that. That’s a skill I wish I was better at.I can think more deeply about a problem than almost anybody I interact with, but it takes time. I can’t quickly run through all the possibilities and reach a snap decision in seconds, at least not effectively – when I do I usually find I’ve overlooked something important. I’m getting better, but I’d love to attend a “ranger school for 40 year olds who just want to learn to think faster.”

          6. Vasudev Ram

            Interesting point. Maybe artificially create no-risk/low-risk situations for problem-solving and give yourself a short deadline? Might work to improve that skill that JLM mentioned and that you wish you were better at. I’m not that good at it either, although I’ve done it in emergency situations that could have been serious.

          7. Rick Mason

            Then explain the career of Mugsy Bogues who while only 5 ft 3 in played a long career in the NBA. Lots of I will there.

          8. Adam Sher

            I think that he and Spud Webb are the exceptions that prove the rule.

          9. Rick Mason

            Actually there are twenty players in NBA history 5 ft 9 inches or shorter. I couldn’t find the stats on the total number of players under six feet but I would have to imagine that it would be at least double that number.…I wonder how many there would be if every outstanding college player had decided not to even try out for the NBA because of the self perceived short coming of height? Mugsy Bogues and Spud Webb came in with the attitude of just try and deny me and I’d say that is the reason for their success.

          10. Adam Sher

            Check out the book Sports Gene by David Epstein. It does a great job of talking about why certain sports have certain body types.I really think you’re proving @kidmercury:disqus ‘s point. Per your source, there are 2 active players in the NBA who are short. There were 494 players on the active roster at the beginning of this season. One of them is Isaiah Thomas, who’s father, Isaiah Thomas, is the the Hall of Fame. Imagine how much extra attention little Isaiah received because of who is father is.

          11. Rob Larson

            Isaiah Thomas is not related to Isiah Thomas (pistons). However your overall point is correct.

          12. Adam Sher

            Oh dang! I thought they were and have a memory of hearing an announcer talk about it. Sometimes you remember what you expect and not what is true.

          13. kidmercury

            i stated NBA wing — bogues was a point guard. but let us go with that example anyway. bogues is one data point. i don’t deny the existence of extreme outliers, but i think ignoring that they are extreme outliers (like truly, profoundly, extreme) is not of value.

          14. Vasudev Ram

            >We are slowly breeding I WILL out of our children by the soft and easy life we give to them.Your point is more general, but I said something along those lines too, here, at least once before, something like “the dumbing down of software”. That should really have been “the dumbing down of software __teaching__”.Happening somewhat in universities (US ones, AFAICT, based on what I have read, not sure about Indian ones and others, likely there too), and is happening even more in “coding” bootcamps. And many of those bootcamps charge high, like multiples of $10K.A lot of the kids attending those bootcamps are going to regret it in a short year or two when their careers start stagnating – although they might not have enough knowledge even by then to realize the cause – because of not having been taught / learned fundamental principles of software development, that transcend the hot technologies of the moment. Except for the few smart and dedicated ones who pick up that stuff on their own and/or happen to land up in companies where those things are given enough importance, and they are mentored and guided on acquisition of the right skills and knowledge.E.g. Check how fast the “most popular JavaScript framework” title keeps changing from one framework to another (it’s become an industry joke).

        3. Adam Sher

          in fact, the whole field of measuring general intelligence is probably worth greater collective investment from society.I am highly skeptical of the value of measuring intelligence. Our collective track record is abysmal w/r/t assigning meaning and policy to measures of intelligence. Other than diagnosing someone with a learning disability, which we already do, what do you do with IQ information? Gattaca?Further, the environmental impact on IQ is high, so when you measure IQ how can you tease apart what you are measuring when you measure IQ?Finally, I’m going to preempt what I view as a false equivalence by refuting the claim that not studying IQ among population groups is akin to ignoring genetic differences in population groups for the purposes of developing medical treatments.

          1. kidmercury

            positive, morally acceptable versions of gattaca i think are worth consideration and discussion, if they exist.i think on some level society benefits from thinking of highly intelligent people as potential resources. for instance, one goal of the comp sci education initiative may be to increase the number of quality software and hardware engineers, under the rationale that doing so creates more wealth and innovation for us all to enjoy. if we are optimizing for total wealth creation, i would argue that a bigger driver is not the number of overall qualified software engineers, but rather the number of engineers that can make great breakthroughs. one wozniak or buterin is worth 10,000, maybe even 100,000 software engineers who are of a more normal skill how do we find them? can we cultivate them? one thing is that grouping them with others who are average may hinder them. when schools cut advanced or gifted programs, we may be losing buterins and wozniaks as a result. again, china is doing the be clear i am not saying that a singular focus on genius development should be the modus operandi. i see lots of social and moral value in helping all individuals. but i think a focus on what is being done and why, with a clear understanding of the pros and cons, is very important.i think the body of research on intelligence is richer than many suspect, although because it is a somewhat controversial field, it is often dismissed or not openly accepted. books like “the nurture assumption” or “a troublesome inheritance” talk about this in greater detail. they put forth a view that nurture is a smaller factor than we assume. i find those viewpoints credible, or at least worth deeper consideration and research.

          2. Adam Sher

            Sometime in the past couple of weeks, I read an article on a mom blog about a mother who said of her four children, the one who was highly-gifted (this is a term that means IQ > 140) was the most challenging. Her other children ran the gamut of learning disabilities, other neuro/physical challenges, and normal-ish. The gist was that there are school sponsored programs and resources that cover many mal-challenges but nothing to assist with highly-gifted children. To your point, I agree, that there isn’t a pre-adult system in place to nurture uber-smart kids. Further to your point, schools measure intelligence in a way where they identify kids whom they cannot help (i.e. highly-gifted) so that’s an additional use of measuring intelligence.We have a plethora of post-secondary school institutions that accumulate and cultivate highly intelligent people. Don’t think you government agencies like NASA, the National Weather Service, and the Military (grouping a lot of things together in this one) require brilliant minds? PhD programs exist to create new knowledge. Defense firms, Renaissance Technologies (in finance), etc…Do you think the above companies and institutions are failing to capture enough of the best & brightest and are therefore not producing enough “good?” Or perhaps are you suggesting that we should conduct more centralized (state or fed) programs to buttress the highly-gifted to greatness? …although because it [intelligence studies] is a somewhat controversial field… I can only assume that this is the written equivalent of deadpanning. Understatement of the month! …they put forth a view that nurture is a smaller factor than we assume. I would not minimize the impact of environment on intelligence. For example, malnourished children under-develop in every measurable way. These detrimental effects on brain development can result in mental retardation and are not always reversible. A different example that shows the upside of environment is how education is shown to increase intelligence for each year of education (1-5 IQ points / yr). This increase persists throughout adult life. See also the Flynn Effect.Also one’s social environment will affect how a person perceives, or doesn’t, intelligence or the pursuit of. It runs both ways. The benefits of your peer group at Harvard on seeking knowledge. The detriments of your peer group in Middletown, OH on not being aware there’s knowledge at Harvard to seek, or that there is a Harvard. i find those viewpoints credible, or at least worth deeper consideration and research Perhaps where we can find common ground is in discovering things that increase intelligence. Then it would be appropriate to investigate how effective a method is for a given population group.

          3. kidmercury

            i’m always reluctant to endorse a state-based approach to cultivating talent, but i think in some way the burden is on the education industry to increase the number of geniuses produced. so much of what i see in schooling is about catering towards the average, or focused solely on lifting the average. i believe the idea of lifting the edges should be explored: in other words, if you make the kids at the 99th percentile 1% smarter, that will get you a lot more than if you make the kids at the 50th percentile 15% smarter. i am just making those numbers up, but hopefully the idea is communicated.agreed that environment has some impact, i don’t see how anyone could deny that. but i think its impact may be overstated. more importantly, though, more research would allow us to determine the extent to which that is true, under what conditions, etc. we are in agreement that understanding what drives intelligence will be of value.

          4. Adam Sher

            Last night, this article popped up on my Google Feed. I’m sharing this because it’s interesting and relevant to our discussion and not because I’m reading further into your views than what you’ve stated in our short discussion.…I would be more interested in working to advance the bottom edge, where environment is the defining characteristic on intelligence. I think we’ll all be surprised by how far having the right environment will help.

          5. kidmercury

            thanks for sharing that article, i found it to be a worthwhile read. my hunch — as a person who has read a few books on this subject, not an expert biologist/geneticist or anything — is that there may be a big opportunity to bring about changes on a generational basis by changing the environment. as an example, i am of indian origin, and i have many family members and friends who are not very tall by western standards (for instance, a male who is 5’7″). we can observe, however, a steady upwards march in height for each successive generation that is in the united states. my hunch is that there is some kind of environmental impact here that is in turn having a genetic impact, which in turn is yielding an effect that spans generations. i suspect there may be something we can learn from this and apply to intelligence, for the enrichment of all of humanity (and without anyone having to be racist or mean or accuse others of that or feel bad or anything like that 🙂 )

        4. sigmaalgebra

          Apparently IQ is just the first principle component in a factor analysis, that is, a principal components decomposition from essentially the polar decomposition in linear algebra. Don’t give it too much respect!

      3. sigmaalgebra

        The really big, important parts of child development and education are not much like learning calculus, violin, or computer programming in grade school and, if well taught, do not require exceptional intelligence. However some actual psychological problems can be a serious obstacle; for getting good results, having a healthy child is important.Loading the child up with too much narrow academic work is not good, is like having them with their nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, and ear to the ground and working perfectionisticlyPerfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ that position all the while needing to understand more broadly and often deeply.A child with a good home life, with influences from good parents, aunts, uncles, grand parents, etc. won’t get much additional benefit from a summer at Stanford.What’s on the shelves of the research library from the past is fixed and now for the significant parts grows only slowly.For a kid, more important than that library is what is new about daily life and not really in an academic research library and that they learn from their relatives, figure out just by observing daily, and invent on their own.Some of the stuff in the research library or recent academics can be enormously powerful, but usually need to do well in much of the rest of child development actually to be successful in the end.My usual list of important child development topics is;academic, artistic, athletic, creative, emotional, empathetic, entrepreneurial, ethical, mechanical, moral, psychological, quantitative, rational, religious, romantic, scientific, social, technical, verbal.So, the STEM field parts of a research library are good for learning only a little of this list.

        1. Adam Sher

          Somewhat related…Something I’ve been thinking about is the importance of struggle or suffering. I’m a tennis player and most of what makes me good is my willingness to embrace suffering in practice and in matches. I enjoy grinding out points to make my opponent bend over or even sit down in between points. I can smell when you’re about to break. Rafael Nadal, one of the greatest, said, “I learnt during all my career to enjoy suffering…”I suppose suffering is an aspect of Angela Duckworth’s grit paradigm but I think suffering is something that stands alone. If you can learn to suffer…

          1. sigmaalgebra

            I’ve suffered, and I’ve done some good things, but they were nearly always separate.I’m eager enough to work and get good things done. The difficulties are from outside of me and not from my lack of desire or motivation and internal to me.E.g., I thought I should do some running. So, I drove the car in a loop around the neighborhood and got a length of 3.1 miles. I ran that 3 times a week, came back soaked with sweat, enjoyed it, wanted to improve faster, went two laps three times a week, but quit because I had developed bone spurs under my Achilles tendons. They required surgery, and my tendons were sore for years. I had plenty of motivation, and put up with the sore tendons until I got spurs that, had I continued, could have gotten me a ruptured tendon. Net I quit running. I’m not built like a runner, more like a plow horse than a race horse. This body is the only one I have, and I don’t want to wreck it in too much exercise.I’m finishing up building my first server. I also want it to be able to type simple text on an old Diablo daisy wheel printer for addressing envelopes, typing inserts to jewel cases for CD/DVD copies of important CD/DVDs, typing FedEx labels, typing notes on 5 x 7″ cards for notes to place in freezer bags with computer parts, etc., all typing my laser printer is not good at. So, I needed to get out the little electronic parts for the cable, plugs, pins, electronic solder, soldering iron, volt-ohm meter, wire cutter/stripper, details on what pins go with what signals, telling Windows there is a new printer, and getting a working combination of all of the signals, pins, Diablo options, and Windows COM port options. That took a while. Due to lack of good documentation and more electronic test equipment, I had to do a lot of TIFO — try it and find out. With all the failures, the effort took a while. I was successful. The effort was fun and I didn’t suffer or need to get the work done. The only bad part was that it was spending the time I wanted to spend on work more directly related to my startup,In grad school, in an advanced course I saw a problem. I looked at the most relevant, famous papers, and they didn’t have a solution. So I took on the problem as a course for credit. I started with some crude ideas but kept thinking and found some much better ideas. I got a good solution, better than I had expected. Word spread in the department, and my favorite prof walked up and congratulated me on the work. I got a halo in the department. The work was new, correct, and significant and, thus, technically met the requirements for a Ph.D. dissertation. Start to finish the work took two weeks. I did most of the work sitting on my bed beside my wife while she watched TV. The work was fun; I didn’t suffer. I did a one semester course for credit in two weeks. The work did look publishable, and I did publish it — no problem, accepted right away by a famous mathematician and journal editor in chief. One of my results I called a lemma; he wanted me to call it a theorem, a nice honor. I discovered that my work also solved a related problem stated but not solved in a famous paper in mathematical economics by Arrow, Hurwicz, and Uzawa — the first two have Nobel prizes in economics. Again, I didn’t suffer; it was fun.I have plenty of motivation without suffering.Where I did suffer was with my wife in her long illness — I suffered because her problems did a lot to hurt both of our lives, and I was not able to figure out how to get a solution. Then she died. That’s a case when I suffered. The suffering didn’t do me any good.

          2. Adam Sher

            Definitely important food for thought. Thanks for sharing such a personal experience.

    2. LE

      (smart people increasingly hang out only with other smart people, and the impact of this)As I have said biggest thing for me personally going to private school and Wharton was exactly this. The education was great but paled in comparison to being around people who took education and learning seriously either because there were motivated as such or had parents who pushed them in that direction. Sure you get that in other places but not in such concentration and that concentration is really the key. I suspect that is what you are talking about here at Google and Facebook which leads to innovation and energy. Actually happens at many startups for that matter as opposed to traditional companies.

      1. PhilipSugar

        That would be here……

    3. Adam Sher

      I suspect cognitive sorting is a normal social occurrence and does not create issues in of itself. For example, you would be wise to marry someone who is similar to you in cognitive ability. As you rightly alluded to, there are bad consequences when this behavior scales in tandem with wealth a town, city, or state. In Philly where I live, this is painfully clear in the demarcation in K-12 educational opportunities between the Main Line and Center City. Center City has higher property taxes and housing prices (PSF) yet a public school system that would stunt any kid’s growth.In Center City, there is 1 good school, Masterman School, which is a magnet school. What this means is that the conditions that @le_on_avc:disqus described in his comments about the Stanford program apply. Most importantly, parents need to have time and savvy to get their kids in. The top-tier acceptance rate for kids at that school is to die for. If you live in South Philly, North Philly, or Rittenhouse, you can send your kids there if you can run the admissions gauntlet. 1 SCHOOL!OR, you can live in the Main Line, if you can afford it, where pretty much every school district sends an ample amount of kids to top-tier schools. I view this outcome as the problem you described, when socio-economic sorting occurs at scale.The city needs to find a better way to incentivize the Rittenhouse elite to stay in the city without giving up its tax revenue (1).(1) New construction home prices typically start at $400,000 (row-home condo) and are usually $750,000+. These home prices are clearly meant for high-income young professionals, or empty nesters. These homes also come with 10-year tax abatements. To wit, a 9 unit project near my house was recently completed where the average settlement price was above $2M. The tax bill on these homes is under $1,000 / year. How can you provide funding to public schools if you don’t collect taxes?

      1. kidmercury

        agree that cognitive sorting is a normal social occurrence, but its impact has really become apparent as we have moved deeper into the knowledge/information economy. now the returns on organizational intelligence are so great that companies are extremely motivated to exacerbate cognitive sorting, even if they do not realize that is what they are doing. the downstream impact of this plays out in the real estate and public schooling scenarios you outlined, the less intelligent being increasingly disconnected from opportunities as a result. but at the same time, cognitive sorting is necessary to bring us google maps, self-driving cars, and all the other things that raise the living standard for everyone.

      2. JLM

        .There is another measure of “wealth” that is rather obvious, but almost never used.It is the amount of parental supervision.Rich kids have two parents, two sets of grandparents and access to gobs of tech.In many instances, they may have divorced parents which doubles the level of supervision.The rich kids also have summer camps and unlimited capital to spend on educational enrichment such as travel.Poor kids often have a single parent engaged in subsistence level work, no additional supervision, no access to tech, no enrichment.As these two sets of children grow, the trajectory of their lives departs at an increasing rate of deviation until they are unrecognizable.Add to this the quality of education and you have a true measure of financial poverty, supervision poverty, tech poverty, education poverty.It is, thankfully, reversible starting with the presence of fathers and the creation of nuclear families.Today, I fear we are fighting the wrong war with the wrong tools.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Adam Sher

          Two parent household is the biggest (maybe two, wealth being the other) factor for outcomes. You can’t overstate that.

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Yup, those differences are sometimes called social capital. As we wrecked the economy in the 1930s, we destroyed a lot of social capital and have not even yet fully recovered.You are right about parents, grand parents, and even great grand parents: On such social capital an isolated tribe in the Amazon can have another generation each 15 years and, thus, each child with two parents, four grand parents, eight great grand parents all right there within the village to help and, thus, do better on social capital than we do.E.g., your perfect grand daughter has for a mother your perfect daughter and you as a grand parent, devoted, knowledgeable, attentive, insightful, etc. So, your perfect grand daughter gets much more than she could just from her two parents.

      3. PhilipSugar

        This is where I say you cannot just apply different rules.

        1. Adam Sher

          What am I missing here, I don’t follow you?

          1. PhilipSugar

            So how is it I can tax one person one way and another differently in the same jurisdiction. So for instance let’s say I like your business, or the fact that you build nice stuff in center city. Now why is that different than if I’ve been there forever. Works both ways. Rent control is a great example.

          2. LE

            It would be interesting to see what you can wrangle out of Delaware by saying that you are going to move the company to Philly or some other area. Doesn’t pay now for you since it’s your employer and not you. Of course if you were to change that situation then it might be a good faux reason why you need the incentive.Even better: ‘actually company wants to move operations to Denmark unless…’

          3. Adam Sher

            OK, yes. Thanks for clarifying. In agreement everywhere. What these types of policies tell me is that the intent is good but the unintended consequences are terrible. Our ability to model outcomes is abysmal and it’s a shame we keep appointing people with the same deficiency. It’s a mistake we can’t seem to learn from.

      4. LE

        My cousin’s son got into Masterman and then got a full scholarship to some college as a result. My cousin has lived in society hill since I can remember could have been the 80’s even maybe.My guess is millenials are not as clued into schools and school districts as people in the past and also would tend to kick that problem can down the road or figure it will always work out. Not saying they don’t think about it but not as much is my point.Also millenials are less likely bothered by people ‘not like them’ at the schools so they are more accepting of differences. You know part of the issue with parents and schools is to have your kids around people that are like you. That is ‘old school’. My guess is millenials don’t see the same ‘threat’ as their parents would have (one of the reasons you flee to the suburbs).

        1. Adam Sher

          Sticking in Philly – here’s a (small) movement of [Millennial] parents purposefully sending their kids to schools like Chester Arthur (Gray’s Ferry area) or whatever is up in the art museum area for the reasons you stated. In addition, it’s become harder, like any good school, to attend Masterman, so some parents keep their kids in Greenfield (Fitler’s Square) or Meredith (Society Hill). As a result, Greenfield and Meredith are becoming solid through middle school (everyone keeps trying for Masterman) due to the trickle down effect of the families who want their kids to attend Masterman but cannot because there isn’t enough room. If this trend continues for a generation, Philly could have a handful of quality public schools (at least through middle school).Now, I can attest that suburban flight for Millennials is real and just delayed because we have kids at a later age. So, I’m pessimistic about Philly’s ability to take advantage of my generation’s interest in city living. I discussed this quite a bit with the head of the Real Estate Dept at Wharton and the consensus is that no one believes Millennials will permanently entrench themselves in urban cores.

          1. LE

            One thing is the fact that part of the lure of the city is the nightlife or restaurants. But I think once you have more than 1 kid with the cost and trouble of getting a babysitter you are not as easily able to enjoy the city for that. Not saying the only reason. But part of it maybe.When you think about it what does the city have that is so great for a family? You can only go to museums and cultural things so much. And it’s trivial to get into Philly on the weekends from many suburbs so no big deal. Not to mention the Philly wage tax.One thing the city has is apartments that you can rent vs. have to buy. That is changing though in the suburbs there are companies buying up large numbers of homes to rent out to people who can’t afford a down payment (was article other day in WSJ for that).Maybe also adding to things is that parents don’t see the need for kids to go out and play in a neighborhood. Why? They seem occupied in the house. Back in the day you needed a neighborhood because otherwise kids would be watching tv. Now they use the ipad or phone and parents don’t see it as the same thing (when it’s actually much worse). So the neighborhood was the babysitter in the past. What would you do in the city as a kid? You’d be boxed in. We grew up (well I did) going out in the neighborhood because there weren’t things to do at the house and we couldn’t watch tv (and not great stuff on tv anyway).

          2. Adam Sher

            My son isn’t old enough for me to have experienced giving him freedom to leave the house. In my head, city living means it’s easier for him to visit friends and achieve independence. On the other hand, in my head, living a suburban neighborhood means there is space to explore without having an agenda.Areas like Ardmore, Wayne, and Narberth have rental stock and walkable town centers. It’s nice!

  6. DJL

    That is super cool. I’m sure Fort Bend ISD has never heard of this. I am going to try to help them get up to speed, but there is no official “coding” function in K-12. Is Scratch integrated into the “hour of code” platform?

  7. William Mougayar

    When I was a kid, car racing tracks and model trains were considered the coolest toys one can have. I think having Scratch would have brought another dimension to cool learnings. I envy today’s kids who have an opportunity to learn programming so early with Scratch, and am very happy for them.

    1. LE

      The cars flew off the tracks if you didn’t race them right!One issue in being a kid today is to much choice. To many cool, fun or distracting things that you can do.

      1. Adam Sher

        Yes, you could apply too much power! You could also electrocute yourself. Both results were shocking.

          1. Adam Sher

            Man, that is cool.

      2. William Mougayar

        Oh yeah, they flew off if you didn’t slow down on the corners. I remember !

    2. Rick Mason

      Add in the erector set which provided me hours of enjoyment. Scratch is merely the erector set for the digital age.

    3. Lawrence Brass

      Had the luck to enjoy a Märklin setting with my grandfather, it was for us but in reality it was his. It was magic. I realized later that choosing science and engineering instead of art was all because of his influence. I was near 10 and I got this [… ] for xmas, with a manual in french that I never understood. He had a plan. I am very grateful.Anyway, what kids really want is to be loved and accepted. Mix that with a career path and they will be in the right track.

  8. Tereza

    This is great to hear. We are big fans of SCRATCH through the extracurricular program in my community I developed 5 years ago, called Cupcakes and Code. (Actually, it’s in my living room).We hire an officer of our local public high school’s Girls Who Code club, I ask my daughter whom she wants to invite in for the year (i’m now doing this on my second daughter – it’s a nice way that I, as a working mom, can give her room to create her own social capital). Together, we establish a club of about half-dozen middle schoolers. The goal isn’t so much to turn them into world class engineers as it is to create a culture of coding as a language/skill/material which they are as comfortable with belong to as the boys are. Previously, our HS always had “one” girl enrolled in AP Computer Science – as if it was a rule. Now, they’re at about 50/50. Of course the broader trend has contributed the lion’s share to this, but I think our C+C Club and its leadership opportunity helps.Over time, all 4 of my HS student teachers have gotten into the colleges of their choice (MIT! Duke! UVA! Cornell!), and used the C+C/Girls Who Code and SCRATCH frameworks to build their own curriculum, teach, and (important!) earn money. (The student teacher earns about $1000 for running ~10 sessions over the academic year.)For me, through mentoring the student teachers (and I write them college references), I learn SO much about our local HS culture, happenings, and honestly I become a better parent (because i’m in the know) and it’s really been a joy to watch these HS seniors step into adulthood and responsibility. My girls have great young women to admire and model after. And the parents get to know each other and enjoy each session’s demos – which are filled with laughter. A final fascinating outcome is that the parents of the student-teachers have been great guides for me, as I’ve navigated HS for my own kids. We’ve built a network of allies. :-)SCRATCH has been a key ingredient in our Cupcakes and Code journey. To them, its really just a vehicle to be silly and make art… grabbing a pic of Kim Kardashian and making her bounce and spin. And I think, really, that’s the point. Using computing as a means to create.I can’t wait to tell Ally, our current fabulous C+C Student Teacher and HS senior, about the latest SCRATCH release! Our next session is Jan 26 so if you want I can post a pic. 🙂

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    We have a Mycroft, a Cozmo and now two Vectors in our house. While the Mycroft and the Vectors are clearly ‘smarter,’ the kids love Cozmo the most because they have the most access to controlling (aka programming) it.It would be really cool to see an intersection of these devices and something like Scratch. Something open source (like Mycroft) would be ideal. I think kids would absolutely go to town.

  10. Michael Ball

    Obviously Scratch can’t and won’t be used to make things like operating systems, machine learning models, transaction processing systems, etc, etc. But the people who will be building those things in the next ten years will have likely gotten into programming via Scratch.But you can build those things in Scratch, and even learn about an explore those topics! 🙂

  11. Farhan Lalji

    My 9 year old daughter loves Scratch and I love playing the games she’s created with her. Wondering if/when it’s right to “graduate” to python or other languages?

  12. Amber Manry

    I’d love to get your thoughts on my cartoon that introduces coding concepts to kids!