YUKON — Fifth-grader Mason O'Hara didn't spend his spring break on a beach or a ski slope — he spent it in a classroom at Yukon's Skyview Elementary learning about computer code.
Mason joined 23 other young students at Scratch Camp, which teaches the basics of Scratch, a program developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help kids get into computer programming.
The camp was sponsored by iThemes, an Edmond-based company, and The Div, a nonprofit dedicated to innovation.
Mason designed a Harlem Shake video and a video game during the camp. He wants to attend MIT and become a computer programmer when he grows up.
“I like being able to see how to do something, solving problems,” he said. “And when something doesn't work, you figure something else out that will work.”
Since its development, 3.1 million kids have shared their projects on the Scratch website. Instructor Wes Fryer said the program allows kids to do just about anything they can imagine.
“It's a lot like snapping together Lego bricks,” he said. “The kids don't type code, they drag blocks in to make sprites, which are objects, do different things. It's open-ended, so kids can make all kinds of things.”
Sixth-grader Wyatt Lane created a rainbow race game.
“There's a lot of fun stuff you can do,” he said. “It has graphics, and it's whatever you want it to be. I like to be creative, and Scratch lets you be creative.”
Scratch also allows for problem-solving and math, though it's not always obvious to the programmers they are doing math.
“The program is laid out on a coordinate grid, and the center is the origin,” Fryer said. “Kids immediately learn about moving things around on the grid. It's a subversive way of doing math, and it's all contextual.”
Mason said one of his favorite ways to spend free time is programming on his home computer.
“I like to make my own graphics,” he said.