The popular programming language Scratch has now got a sister site called Scratch X. Scratch X contains lots of extensions to Scratch which allow it to do such things as control hardware and talk to external services on the internet. With Scratch X you can get Scratch to speak, control 3D environments and play synthesised music as well as controlling Lego EV3 robots and Roamers.
Whilst there are lots of extensions available on the ScratchX website, I've concentrated here on the ones that don't need additional hardware and are suitable for use in primary schools (in a similar vein to the Scratch projects for KS2).
The most exciting of the extensions for me is Scratch 3D, which incidentally has its own website at scratch3d.org. Not only does Scratch3D allow Scratch users to create fun interactive 3-D games; it also introduces the user to basic fundamentals of programming and computational thinking. Scratch3D is an engaging and exciting way to introduce and inspire the next generation of computer programmers to the magic of creating games and stories using computer simulated 3D space and 3D geometries.
Text to Speech
With this Scratch extension, you can generate text-to-speech output using the Web Speech API. This means you can input a string of text and the computer will speak it back to you! This brings the level of interaction in a Scratch project to a new level as we can get the programs that the children write to talk to them. Please note that the Web Speech API is only supported by the Google Chrome web browser at this time.
International Space Station Tracker
This Scratch extension lets you track the progress of the International Space Station in it's orbit around the planet Earth. All you need to use the ISS Tracker extension is an active internet connection.
This Scratch extension provides you with a set of blocks you can use to generate your own sounds. Experiment with a sound synthesizer with blocks that control frequency and waveform, and effects like echo, pan, glide, and wah. You can use it to code your own funky electronic music or make weird new sound effects.
Here you can access current weather information for locations all around the world. You can access temperature, humidy, wind speed, cloudiness, and even trigger events when certain weather conditions are met.
Differences between ScratchX and Scratch
Although ScratchX files can be save and links to projects can be shared, there are a few differences between Scratch X and the standard version of Scratch. The main difference is that ScratchX is a separate experimental platform built to test experimental Scratch features so ScratchX files can only be used on the ScratchX site and not on the standard Scratch site. Also, there is no login to ScratchX and there are no community features to the site either so you can't show your own work as easily.