$10 million grant sees Scratch Foundation work with The LEGO Foundation on tech play

by Freya Lucas

January 28, 2021

The LEGO Foundation and Scratch Foundation have announced a partnership to support learning through play with technology for millions of children across the world.

 

Building on shared passions for learning through play, the LEGO Group, the LEGO Foundation, and the MIT Media Lab have worked together for 35 years exploring how a hands-on, minds-on approach to learning empowers children to become creative lifelong learners. 

 

The latest step in this collaboration is a formal partnership between the LEGO Foundation and the Scratch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grew out of the MIT Media Lab. 

 

Under this new pairing, millions of children will now bring learning through play with technology to life through Scratch, the free block-based creative coding platform and online community that is now the world’s leading coding platform for children.

“Children learn most effectively when they are playfully engaged in constructing meaningful projects,” said Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, LEGO Group owner and member of the LEGO Foundation Board.

“My late friend and founding faculty member at the MIT Media Lab Professor Seymour Papert has had a great impact on how we understand the way that children learn. His studies on how children make sense of the world serve as an extraordinary inspiration for how we support children’s creativity, imagination, play, and learning.” 

 

“Scratch shows how computer programming is not only a very creative process but also an important skills-building activity that offers children the opportunity to tell and live their own stories by building and creating things that are important to them.”

 

Mr Kristiansen said it was “a joy” to know that so many children around the world will be able to learn through play with Scratch.

 

With Scratch, children can create their own digital stories, games, and animations, then share them with one another in an online community. Children create Scratch programs by snapping together graphical blocks of code, similar to the way children build with LEGO bricks. 

 

Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch was publicly launched in 2007. Last year, Scratch moved out of MIT to the Scratch Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to support its continuing growth and long-term sustainability. 

 

Scratch has proven to be an effective digital platform for supporting learning through play. As children create and share Scratch projects, they learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively, essential skills for everyone in today’s world. 

 

The use of Scratch is unevenly distributed around the world. The new LEGO Foundation partnership with the Scratch Foundation will bring Scratch tools, materials, and activities to children who have not previously had the opportunities to engage in learning through play with digital technologies, with an initial focus is on children and their communities in Mexico, South Africa, Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda.

“This is the start of a wonderful new chapter in our 35-year collaboration,” Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at MIT Media Lab, co-founder of Scratch, and Chair of the Scratch Foundation Board said.  

Using a five year, $10,000,000 grant, the Scratch Foundation will become one of the four specialist partners in the new LEGO Foundation Tech & Play Initiative, connecting organisations around the world that are igniting a more playful approach to using technology. 

 

As part of this work, they will work with strategic partners in important LEGO Foundation geographies to develop and disseminate free digital tools, activities, and educational materials, based on the Scratch programming platform and online community, to make learning through play with technology more accessible to educators and equip children with the skills to thrive in a technology-driven world. 

 

To follow along with the project, please see here

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