The TiE2015 Session “Introduction to Teaching Robotics” was led by Carmen Ferrara and used the LEGO Mindstorms robotics systems to demonstrate the ways teaching robotics can excite young people about STEM topics and can provide teachers an avenue for using hands-on, project-based lessons to introduce or reinforce many math, science, and applied physics concepts. During the session, the discussion of programming with LEGO and Code.org prompted Ryan to revisit the site and try the Hour of Code: Code with Anna and Elsa activity.
Here is an excerpt from Ryan’s insightful Code.org review:
You can read the full Code.org review in Ryan’s own words here. The text below is a significant excerpt.
- High-level programming gives quick results
- Artwork/characters are a draw
- Functions introduced sequentially and with purpose
- Interface is very similar to Scratch, which is a commonly used educational language
- Sandbox round at the end
- Emphasis on the ‘one right way’
- Programming may be too ‘high level’ as artwork, sound effects, and animation are handled by the engine.
- The language/interface appears to be specifically created for this game- does not teach a commonly used language
- After completion, it is not clear where to go next
Recommendations: I think the the biggest thing that could be done to improve this tutorial is to follow it up by taking you to a fully-functional interface and providing the code written earlier so that you do not just have to remember how you did something to make it again. Most obviously, the game could use actual blocks from Scratch and at the end you could be directed straight to a Scratch project containing all of the solutions from the game. It would be necessary to break down some of the functions to do this but it would allow the student to continue on the same path.
We love Ryan’s recommendations for ways that this activity could be made more robust. We sure hope the good folks at Code.org would consider Ryan’s feedback as they develop this and other activities.
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