What we do_

MIT’s Scratch is very widely used to introduce young people to the ideas of programming. The learner writes code for sprites by visually clicking together blocks like go forward 10 steps. This avoids all problems with syntax, and lets students concentrate on the interesting parts of making their animation or game.

Once a student gets proficient with Scratch, a common next step is Python, which is also very widely used in education as well as in industry. Python is a big leap from Scratch, though, because the student has to make two jumps at once: They have to correctly type their code into an editor or IDE, getting all details of the syntax right. They also have to leave behind the Scratch world of sprites, costumes, sounds, when this sprite clicked scripts, and so on.

So we have developed Pytch, a bridge between these two worlds to smooth a learner’s journey from Scratch to Python. It helps people to learn Python by building on skills they have developed in Scratch.

Pytch has Scratch’s learner-friendly sprites, event-driven scripts, graphics, sounds, etc., while introducing the student to the idea of writing textual Python code instead of dragging and dropping blocks. In this way, they keep all the knowledge, intuition and skills they’ve built up with Scratch (or that they can quickly learn within Pytch), and can focus on the task of learning the Python language.

Pytch phase 2

Pytch phase 1 has been successfully completed in December 2022, huge thanks to everyone who supported and collaborated with us! The team obtained another SFI Discover award for Pytch Phase 2 in 2022 to continue the app evaluation and development: 2023-2024.

Pytch Phase 2 will directly support and promote developing capacity and skills for delivery of STEM education by supporting interest and engagement in the learning of Computer Science. Our existing tools and supports are designed to enhance learners’ engagement with computing as a subject. We wish to build on these to provide increased competence among educators and foster self-sustaining communities of practice that will build capacity for delivering second-level computing subjects. By developing tools and supports that encourage learners to build on and expand their existing knowledge to create fun, appealing games and animations, engagement by these learners with computing as a subject will be enhanced. The process of co-creation will encourage a virtuous cycle of increased skill and capacity building among all participants.

Success stories

Feedback from students and teachers:

  • It succeeds in its mission to be a bridge from Scratch to Python.
  • Definitely, a hit, seemed to work very well with lots of code questions coming up from the kids –   a good sign that they were engaging with it! […] Also, it is super visual/interactive stuff that is being made and this is great too.
  • [Pytch] would be very cool for introducing writing classes to students regardless of whether they are transitioning from Scratch.
  • Scratch is for children, here [with Pytch] you can type in and feel smarter!
  • Great website for a transition from block to text coding. Easy-to-read code and debug. 
  • It’s easier to learn by yourself [with Pytch tutorials].
  • Very fun to use! 🙂 
  • Really engaging; using Python can be intimidating. 
  • I learned more in these few hours than I did in 2 years of coding in school. Pytch is great!
  • […] I think the software is really helpful and good for bridging the gap between scratch and programming that I actually might recommend it to the coding club in my school.
  • Overall I have enjoyed this week’s course and think I have learnt a huge amount especially since I had no experience with SCRATCH beforehand, this was genuinely a brilliant language to start with.