Thursday, June 9, 2016

What's Next? Osmo Coding

In January I wrote about Osmo: "I can't wait to see what Osmo apps they develop next." An Osmo is a plastic base that an iPad sits in and a little mirror that sits over the front camera on the iPad. This setup allows the user to do things on a tabletop in front of the iPad and simultaneously interact with the iPad. Osmo already had 5 apps available, but Coding is the latest in their line. Today I tried out the latest Osmo app, Coding, and it was terrific!

The kit that you need for the game includes plastic blocks that are magnetic. The blocks show different movements (run, jump) or numbers (1-5) and a play button. The object of the app is to move a cute guy called Awbie through a forest maze to collect strawberries. The way you move Awbie through the maze is to arrange the coding blocks and press play. Then he moves in whatever way you have coded. Like many other games, the player can see tutorial-type hints, clear levels and move on to harder challenges. 

Something that distinguishes this app from others like it, though, is that it combines the coding with some of the nice features of games like Animal Jam or Club Penguin. All the strawberry collecting leads to seeds that can be planted to grow fruits that are currency in the game. Gather the right ingredients and you can get Awbie a sleeping bag for his campsite or change his fire circle to rainbow rocks.

My ten year old daughter eagerly attacked the first four levels or so as soon as I took the materials out of the package. It's hard not to love Awbie and want to feed him all the strawberries in the world. When my daughter spotted a dog for Awbie, she was determined to code a path to get him that dog. Then she wanted to collect enough currency that she could build the dog a shelter. Every time she mastered one challenge, she was ready for another.

This tool is very well-designed. The plastic coding blocks lock together with magnets for easy play, but they also nest magnetically for easy store. The graphics are dynamite - great colors, clean layouts, adorable characters. There are just the right number of hints for younger kids but many opportunities to solve problems in unique ways to keep many kids interested. I like that the action happens on a tabletop so that the work can be more collaborative than when kids work at terminals.

Applause, applause, Osmo! I can't wait to show this to teachers in my iPad class next week and to use at coding camp later this month! Ready to order one? Just click here!

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