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Created from Scratch

Scratch is a simple, easy-to-learn programming language designed at MIT's Media Lab that lets anyone create and share video games and animated stories. Scratch uses a simple set of modular building blocks that can be dragged into place and snapped together on a computer screen like Lego bricks, to create simple computer programs and animations. The software is available for free download from the Scratch web site (http://scratch.mit.edu/) and runs on both PC and Mac computers. The web site also offers tutorials, forums and the extensive archive of projects that people have decided to share.

Besides the games and animated stories envisioned by its creators, users have come up with other ways to use the system that he had never imagined, Resnick says. For example, some people have created an ongoing soap-opera program with new episodes every week, and others have created online competitions and even sophisticated simulations that reproduce scientific, historical or cultural settings, such as a simulation of Easter Island or of the layers of the Earth's structure.

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