Friday, December 12, 2014

The Gift of Coding

Kids like coding, but need more immediate gratification?
Kids got board with maze puzzles?
Kids like playing with real toys rather than video games?  (OK unlikely but maybe parents are tired of the video games.)

check out this great review Robot toys that are kid tested and ready to work. Work to teach our kids both mechanical engineering and computer programming.

I tested many of these myself, and loved them.
I have to admit most of my favorites are LEGO compatible, but also key is being able to program them, and in particular program them with the same tools we learned in KidcodeQ, and Hour of Code.   Those being Blockly and MIT Scratch

I didn't get to play with these long, but  I loved Dot and Dash 
They are ready and easy to play with right out of the box.
You can program them with blockly
And you can attach your LEGOs!

Sphero, it seems so unassuming being "Just a ball" but that simplicity plus the fact that it just works right out of the box means it's super "open" and ready for programming.
There are a lot of app for it, that include programming options, but there are also hacks to control it with MIT Scratch.
With the chariot Sphero becomes LEGO compatible 

(though I used it with LEGOs even without.)

And last but not least LEGO WeDo and LEGO EV3  which are obviously a great addition to a LEGO collection.   I prefer WeDo for simpler programming introduction, and combining with standard LEGO bricks.   The programming interface is similar to Scratch, but Scratch also works with the WeDo sets out of the box no hacking needed.
EV3 has a more complex programming environment as well as parts that are of a different building style than traditional LEGO bricks so I'd consider this a Second Robot gift to give after you have already caught the Robot bug.   But it's the most powerful and the longest lasting in terms of learning most mechanical engineering and computer programming.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hour of Code Frozen

This week is Computer science week and time for Hour of Code.
Join in by trying a fun tutorial GAME

You will find old friends and new characters.

Free Hour of Code app for Tablets and Desktop the Foos

Awesome hour of code tutorial app.
 It's fun, free, language agnostic (and pre-reading)
It's also available for Android iPad and the web