Code.org Hour of Code

Today, between swims in the pool and road cycling, I decided to show the kids (8 & 12 years old) the Code.org Hour of Code Minecraft, Frozen & Star Wars coding activities. I actually have lots of other preparation for 2016 to do but I guess I’m procrastinating and I wanted to do something digital with the kids.

Would I do use this in High School (grades 7 to 12)? Maybe for a quick activity or maybe as a pre-assessment activity (to find out where kids are starting at). It is definitely less than an hour worth of code though; most 10+ year old kids would probably have to do two activities to spend an hour. It is a good introductory; however, anyone who can actually code might find it kind of frustrating and very limiting to use. It might be a real shock if some students love the “play” quality of the Hour of Code and then start doing something a bit more challenging (like real syntax code!). I really hope that the push for coding for everyone hasn’t been driven solely on these types of simplified code games!  The good news is that there are more on-line options available, such as Code.org Code Studio, CodeCombat, Code Avengers, CodinGame, Codecademy, Construct 2, Scratch, Alice & W3Schools.

My kids loved the ‘Hour of Code’ completion Certificates. Any chance to use our printer! 🙂

OK, so here is my review of these on-line coding activities.

Hour of Code: Minecraft

NestedLoops

This was my favourite! It included basic coding along with nested loops and if statements. The block-code was a bit annoying and I would have preferred the option to write JavaScript instead (the Star Wars activity gives you this option). Both my kids completed this successfully; my 12 year old flew through it on his own and my 8 year old needed a bit of help. The final ‘game’ that allows you to do your own thing in the small Minecraft world was good fun but after a few test runs I found it seriously annoying that I couldn’t add my own code – like it would have been cool if I could have created one big nested loop where Steve walks up & down the world in each row and then add all of the possible if statements: if he happens upon sheep he shears them & removes them, or if there is water or lava then he deals with that, destroy blocks in front of him etc.

NestedLoops_code

You can view the code but you can’t write in JavaScript, unfortunately.

Hour of Code: Star Wars

This was fun and I liked that eventually I could change the character during the program. I was surprised that there were no if/else or looping. It concentrated more on functions. I found this one really easy, although I did also have the option to write the JavaScript code.

Hour of Code: Frozen – Elsa & Anna

My 8 year old daughter was very excited about this one BUT we didn’t complete it!  It included the requirement to understand angles, but my daughter is just not ready for anything below 45 degrees at this moment. There were some good examples of nested loops but this was beyond my 8 year old.

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