Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Striking Coding Gold with GoldieBlox

Another new coding app entered the scene recently. This one is another app brought to us by GoldieBlox. If you aren't familiar with GoldieBlox, this is a line of toys worth checking out. Founder Debbie Sterling is an engineer who cashed in everything she had to start this line to encourage girls to make and build and engineer things. When she was just getting GoldieBlox off the ground, every time I watched her talk about the company, I teared up. This subject hits home with me, so we own many GoldieBlox sets and the Movie Machine app. Needless to say, I was very excited about the idea of a GoldieBlox app that teaches coding.

Open the app and you have four options: play the coding adventures, go to the coding sandbox, play the mini-games, or watch Goldie videos. I went directly for the Goldie adventures. The premise of the game is goofy - someone is having a birthday but we don't know who so let's deliver cupcakes to everyone we know in town to cover all the bases.  I recently checked out the game Nancy Drew Codes and Clues and the story is stronger in that one; it makes more sense. Still, the goofy nature of this fits this brand and the target demographic, girls ages 6 - 8, will love the idea of delivering cupcakes. The animation is adorable. Kids will be instantly engaged by the cute characters and the fun of the game.

The game is a good mix of back story dialogue, a nice progression of levels, some mini-games and some dress-up components to break up the coding levels. The coding levels start simple - tap direction arrows to move Goldie and her rocket-powered skateboard. Single arrows eventually give way to more challenging arrangements, requiring mutli-step planning. As levels are mastered, players can pick out trophy items for Goldie and Ruby to wear - scarves, sunglasses, and so on. There are also mini-games where players rearrange pipes to squirt icing onto cupcakes or tap falling ingredients (and avoid non-ingredients) to make cupcakes.

After I fiddled around with the coding levels, I checked out the Sandbox. In the Sandbox, you can choose many of the parameters - size of grid, number of obstacles and turns - and a puzzle is generated that meets those specifications. You can name the levels and save them. I liked this feature a lot. Even after all the levels are mastered - and there are a lot of levels - there will still be a lot of fun left in this game in the Sandbox.

I'm sure there is a reason that the same is designed for kids ages 6 - 8. Maybe that is the optimal age for planting a computer science seed with kids. Or maybe it's the demographic that buys the most GoldieBlox toys. Or maybe the difficulty of the levels is designed for kids who think at that level. This app is sure to be a hit with those kids, but I think it will also appeal to older kids. It's a great introduction to coding embedded in a story with cute characters and engaging animation. A win, all-around!

Special thanks to the friends at GoldieBlox who supplied me with the app so I could check it out!

No comments:

Post a Comment