Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Food Chain: Made from Scratch

Here is a Scratch project that my 9-year-old put together, depicting a Food Chain in the Northern Temperate Forests. An avid lover of animals, this project combining learning in two areas, was a very fun one for him. I loved the fact that he could create a presentation about an ecosystem, while combining his learning with art, storytelling and programming. A good example of an interdisciplinary project...

This project took him a few weeks to create, including the time for the initial research about the ecosystem. We went through the project in small steps, designing the various stages... deciding on the characters in the food chain, the order in which they appear, special effects if any, etc. As you can see from the progression along the length of the project, more special effects started appearing as he learned more about creating animations.

Major learnings for my child were:
  • Using "show" and "hide" instructions to make characters appear and disappear in the story.
  • Timing -- using the wait statement and figuring out how long to wait, before each sprite makes its appearance on screen.
  • Animation: Creating multiple costumes for a sprite and alternating between them to create the effect of movement.
  • Changing the size of a sprite to create the visual effect of distance.
  • Creating and using different backdrops at various points to create the effect of multiple scenes.
  • Using XY coordinates to decide on positions of the sprite at various points of the presentation.


This project simulating a food chain, could potentially be a Grade 5 class project. Food chains are part of the Grade 5 syllabus; the description can be found here on the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) website. The students are expected to  "develop an understanding of the idea that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water. Using models, students can describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment and that energy in animals’ food was once energy from the sun".