When people think about computer sciece, they imagine people with pocket protectors and thick glasses who code all night.-Marissa Mayer
This week is the “Hour of Code” week. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are learning computer code through online tutorials. This campaign is a push by President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates in an effort to create interest in computer science in students in the U.S.
Not one to miss out on all the fun, we found a great app for coding in kindergarten called Kodable. Kodable is designed for children ages 5-7, but I will say that I know a few grown-ups who have spent an hour or three on it. There is a free version of the app and the Pro version is .99 in the App Store. Here is a screenshot of Kodable Pro:
The object is to program the fuzzy ball to move through the maze to eat the coins by putting the arrows in the correct sequence. My students were immediately engaged. Their conversations were analytical and full of strategy. They worked on this app for 45 minutes and were upset when they had to stop. What surprised me was how quickly some gave up and how others persevered. Actually, I should say I was surprised at who gave up and who persevered. It was not at all as I thought it would be.
Why code? Well, why not? It’s always been widely accepted that it is easier for children to learn a foreign language when they are young. Using these devices is as natural as speaking to our students. Why not let them learn a computer language?
After my students worked diligently on Kodable yesterday, today we took it a step further. They created a code that needed to be solved by a friend. They drew the track for the fuzzy ball and had a friend sequence the arrows to correctly move the ball. First they designed the track, then they added the coins to be obtained, and finally, they drew the number of boxes at the top for each arrow to be placed in sequence. This means the student had to go back and count for themselves how many turns were needed in order to know how many boxes to draw. Here are a couple of samples:
Once it was created, they passed it to a friend who then drew the arrows in the boxes provided to show the correct order. The friend also had to count the number of coins earned and write the number on the sheet. They loved this! Seeing their enthusiasm, I printed out some pre-made track and put it in the math center. This way they could cut and build their own if they wanted without having to draw. Here is one a student made at the math center:
The track was the length of a sheet of paper. They could cut and edit how ever they chose. This one had 10 gold coins.
Kodable was a great find. I am sure we will be working on coding for much longer than this week dedicated for it. My young inquiring minds are eager to continue and there’s not a pocket protector anywhere to be seen!
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!