With the #hourofcode upon us, this is an apt time to introduce Lightbot, a coding app which I first became aware of through the #hourofcode a couple of years ago. Lightbot is available as an app and is also online at http://hourofcode…
The challenge is simple: navigate the robot, or lightbot around a grid, lighting up yellow squares as you go. The commands available are also simple – forwards, turn clockwise, turn anti clockwise, jump and light. Initially the challenges only require you to use one programming window, so the emphasis is on sequencing, however once you proceed through the first few levels, procedures are introduced. These are required because the algorithms needed to solve the levels are longer than the space in the in the main window.
Through this, children (and adults) learn sequencing and that repeating certain commands is a more efficient way of coding. It’s also great for introducing debugging – you will fail more than you succeed, but every time you do fail you learn something new, which is exactly the same as in coding.
There is a free version, which has comfortably enough levels and challenge to use up to year 6 and probably beyond, and if you master that the paid version brings more levels and difficulty.
If you are a not a specialist computing teacher this is a great app to introduce some fundamental principals of coding and encourage computational thinking without having to create actual code.