Young Kids Can Code Too

What is the best age to learn coding? There are parents who are worried that children cannot understand how to use a programming language at an early age. To us, learning to code is not just about learning to use a particular programming language. It is also about using technology to think logically and creatively. This can be seen especially among our younger students. Instead of introducing a particular programming language to our students, we encourage them to use blocks-based platform to get familiar with how computer program works. In this article, we will look at three projects by our younger students which are truly impressing.

“Find the Pig” by Isabel Lee

Playing maze games is a childhood favorite for a lot of people. But can you imagine that a 6-year-old can also recreate such games on a coding platform? Isabel shows that it is possible! Using ScratchJr, Isabel program a maze game in which users can control the player using arrow keys.

In this game, users can use the arrow keys to control the fish to navigate through the maze. Here is a glimpse of how the fish can respond to different touching events.

When the “up” arrow key is pressed, a yellow message is sent to the fish. When the fish receives a yellow message, it will move up 1 unit. The same concept is applied to controlling the fish to turn left, turn right and to move down.

When the “up” arrow key is pressed, a yellow message is sent to the fish. When the fish receives a yellow message, it will move up 1 unit. The same concept is applied to controlling the fish to turn left, to turn right and to move down.

The goal is the pig. When the fish reaches the pig, the pig will say “Hello” and send a green message.

When the fish receives the green message, the fish will say “Yay!”.

Isabel says that she likes the project because it is colorful and it includes her favorite animal, the pig 🙂 If she had more time, she would have made the maze more challenging by adding more partition and obstacles. She also wants to add more characters.

Given that ScratchJr is a platform catered for beginners and have limited blocks, we are amazed by the project created by Isabel!

 

“VR Fun Park” by Liv Feschet

Next up, we have Liv. Her project is a virtual reality (VR) game which simulates a grassy field with a road. The purpose of the game is to move the character (a rabbit) to cross the road without being hit by the vehicles. Here is a top-down view of the game:

Since this is a VR environment, it is possible to view the game from another point of view:

To control the direction of which the rabbit is moving, Liv used the following script:

These blocks will align the direction of the rabbit’s movement with the arrow keys (up, down, left and right).

Apart from the vehicles and the rabbit, Liv has added other characters in the game:

These are passengers waiting for the bus in a bus stand. Interestingly, Liv decorated this bus stop and has added a disco ball at the ceiling. There are also two buttons next to the bus stop. Clicking on the light green one will make these characters dance while clicking on the red one will make them stop.

Here is a snippet of her code. “Cylinder1” stands for the green button and “Cylinder2” stands for the red button.

As shown in the code, when “Cylinder1” (green button) is clicked, all three of the characters will dance. When “Cylinder2” (red button) is clicked, the animation of all three characters will end.

Using this VR environment, Liv demonstrates her creativity and her skills in programming different elements to be controlled by different clicking events. Liv has used buttons for controlling the movement of the passengers.

 

“Dancing in the Dark” by Samara Anand

Finally, we have Samara’s robotics projects! Just like a lot of Star Wars fans, Samara adores BB-8! After learning how to control the dance movement of BB-8, Samara wonders whether she can also control mBot to move in a similar manner.

To test out her idea, Samara reviews different ways of making mBot respond to external stimuli. In the end, Samara decided to make use of the ultrasonic sensor of mBot to bring about a series of dance movements.

The ultrasonic sensor is located around the eyes of the mBot. When the user wave around that area, mBot can detect such movement and will respond according to how it is being coded. Samara programmed her mBot to spin in 360 degrees.

Here is an extract of the code:

If the light sensor is less than 970 units, the board attached to the mBot will show a cartoon face. It will also move forward and it will be flashing red light. After half a second, it will show a smiley face and the light will switch to blue.

While Samara is happy that the mBot can show quite a lot of colors, she hopes that there are more ways to make the performance more entertaining to audience. Yet, given that Samara is new to programming robots, we are quite amazed that Samara is able to transfer the idea of a dancing robot from BB-8 to mBot.

These projects show us that it is never too early to introduce children to learning how to code. It gives them a chance to bring their ideas to reality through technology!

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