Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it: sometimes it’s just easier to give the kid the smartphone. There, I said it.
But what if there was an app / game that I could allow my child to play which is not only entertaining but also educational? Could there be an app out there that helps him or her to develop real-world skills that will be as applicable ten years from now as they are today? If it was free as well that would be a bonus.
Lightbot: Code Hour ticks all the boxes on this list: a fun educational app that introduces children (and adults :)) to the fundamental concepts of coding and computer programming. Additionally, it can be played by the whole family – encouraging teamwork and collaboration.
The goal of Lightbot is to command a little robot to navigate a maze and turn on lights at certain points. Players arrange symbols on the screen and place them in a command box. Then by pressing a “Run” button, this variable sequence of symbols commands the robot to walk, turn, jump, switch on a light and so on. As the lessons progress the required sequences become more difficult and the list of symbols more complicated, requiring a little more analytical thought and planning.
So How Does Lightbot Teach Code?
In a nutshell it doesn’t teach anything. What this app does is help children learn how to learn; and learn in a meaningful context. It helps them realise that learning is a process. It’s an app that enables children to learn how to take complex problems and break them down into smaller parts. This, my friends, is the essence of the programming. Programming, or “coding”, is simply the way people tell a computer what to do using instructions that the computer understands.
Without actually typing in any code children are progressively introduced into programming constructs such as sequential control flow (where commands are executed one after the other), procedures (code blocks of re-usable patterns), loops (code blocks created for repeating patterns) and debugging techniques (running a programme, testing the outcome, fixing mistakes etc…)
On a personal note I have found that Lightbot is also an app that encourages persistence in the face of adversity and frustration – a valued skill in any academic or professional situation. Persistence builds character. Character fosters confidence. And confidence … well, that equates to success in all walks of life.
So why not download the app and give it a try? It’s available on both Android and iOS devices and is sure to keep you (and your child) busy.