CONCEPT: Learn to code by dragging and dropping visual code blocks in order to solve challenges and enable your character to complete each level.
DELIVERY: The colourful graphics and animations associated with this app are very slick and engage students immediately. The user never sees the code that lies behind each of the blocks but gains a basic understanding of the functions that each command gives. This has allowed coding to reach ever-simpler levels and ever-younger audiences. The 6yr olds in my class were completely engrossed in a matter of seconds, drawn in by the storyline. I really like that each of the adventures has their own plot providing the motivation to complete each of the levels. There are currently four adventures in total.
The first is ‘Puppy Adventure’ in which the user has to return a lost puppy home by picking up on the scent of his owners who drive off without him. The puppy needs to jump over cones and logs in order to reach bowls of water or lost caps!! In a very ‘angry birds’ style set up you receive 3 stars for completing the task quickly and without using the hints. This feature in itself means that levels can be repeated in order to be completed more efficiently therefore improving the coding skills of the students. Each level gets a bit more challenging and introduces concepts such as conditionals (if/then statements) and looping.
The Second adventure is called ‘Lost in Space’ in which the user travels one level at a time through 72 levels learning increasingly advanced programming concepts like spatial reasoning and conditional logic. The plot behind this is to help Biff build his rocket in order to return home to his moon base.
The third section of the app is called ‘Sketch Racer’ and involves the character ‘snap the turtle’ who follows commands to draw a series of complex geometric patterns.The fourth section is a recent update that teachers users to Create functions and subroutines to lead a dragon (which you hatch yourself from an egg) through the forest. It also includes two bonus arcade games.
The main reason I enjoyed navigating this app is that, for a layman of computer programming like myself, I completely underestimated how significant introducing this skill to learners would be. It enhances users problem solving skills by encouraging them to be creative and logical in their thinking.Before I continue to wax lyrical about this app there were a few things that confused me, which I will now mention in the limitations.
LIMITATIONS: The age range that this app is aimed at is unclear. The graphics and storylines certainly would be appealing to children from around 6-13years old. However as the app has no audio instruction function, it can often be unclear to the younger users why they have failed as all the help and hints (which are great) have to be read and can be quite long. In this instance, unfortunately the development of the children’s coding skills is being held back by their reading competency.It is worth noting in this section that only ‘puppy adventure’ is free, other adventures are in-app purchases.
CONCLUSION: A fantastic app that will introduce the ‘art’ of computer programming to students, who will barely have an inkling that they are learning. 4/5
Introduction to coding and computer science
Improving creative thinking and logical reasoning
During mathematical geometry lessons