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Hughesville author writes second book

By Staff | Sep 15, 2009

HUGHESVILLE – Mike Badger, a technical communcator from Hughesville never knew he would be an author someday. He started his career in the Navy where he worked in the communication center and traffic control. He liked it and later decided to pursue a career in information technology. He is currently employed as an account representative for a local full service advertising agency in Watsontown where he came up with the idea for his second book which is a manual written for children and parents on a computer program called Scratch.

Prior to that Badger was as an internet service provider for a company in Harrisburg, MindSpring a technical support center which later merged with EarthLink in Dallas, Texas.

Badger moved back to Pennsylvania after the merger to finish his four year degree in technical communications at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Shortly thereafter, an opportunity arose to work on a book in conjunction with the Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. Working with PACKT, an international technical and trade publisher from Birmingham, India who helped him write his first book, a step by step guide to configuring, using, and adapting the free Open Source network monitoring system, Badger was able to complete his second book which is a beginner’s guide that teaches computer programming while creating interactive stories, games and multimedia projects.

Titled Scratch 1.4, the book is designed for teachers and parents to introduce the language of computer programming. Used as an educational tool, children as young as 8 years can learn to design, analyze, collaborate and create computer programs. It contains screen captions, images and it is easy to follow said Badger. Scratch software was developed by MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2007 and teaches programming concepts to children. The software is free through the Lifelong Kindergarten group and a grant for teaching youth in under served areas to improve their technical skills.

Badger completed his book in June 2008. “Children learn by doing, less theory is given and more results from experimental projects allow children to use their imagination. The book helps them learn programming and increase digital literacy,” added Badger.

The book is used as an introductory course to programming and demonstrates concepts and provides ways to cover a lot of material. It is done by utilizing building blocks of color that can be stacked on top of one another to create games, interactive art, stories and multimedia projects. A creative outline is easy to follow and the program uses sound, motion, looks creative and gives feedback for their projects by using a built-in image editor. Commands called scripts provide direction.

Children start by doing hands on projects. A simple Birthday card is first followed by an animated humor book using barnyard animals to tell a story. The projects can be re-used and re-mixed by teachers and parents to create new assignments.

Look for the book online at Amazon.com or scratchguide.com. “You can test the tutorials through the book samples before buying it,” added Badger by downloading from the book’s website at http://scratch.mit.edu. For example, in Chapter 7 there is a fortune telling game. “I want kids to have fun using this book,” replied Badger. Other projects to do include a Pong game using a troll and one of the last and more complex projects is a folk tale that uses math skills to teach finance and the power of doubling.

According to Mike Badger 25 percent of people using Scratch are creating content, especially on social networks. So this book is timely to teach children how to create and possibly devise new programs for the future.