Cato's Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cato's Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey takes kids on a story-based adventure through mazes to collect hearts and stars and find friends, using the logic of computer programming to guide their character. The backstory is delivered in pieces at each leg of the hike. There are keys to find, doors to unlock, and damsels in distress to rescue. The pop-up commentary that delivers the backstory manages to redeem the "damsel-in-distress" sexism with the comment, "Well, not really. Your friend really just went for a walk and you couldn't keep up." Kids can share their programs via email.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- problem solving
- thinking critically
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Kids are empowered to choose how they solve the puzzles, and their understanding of coding concepts deepens as they try different solutions using advanced coding techniques (and they'll learn just as much from their failed attempts).
A tutorial shows kids the basics, and a written manual is included. Kids can share programs by email to get feedback. They can extend learning by trying advanced coding techniques and creating their own adventure maps.
What's it about?
CATO'S HIKE: A PROGRAMMING AND LOGIC ODYSSEY puts kids in a hiker's shoes (either Cato or his friend -- kids' choice) on an odyssey to find a way through the magical world they've stumbled into and to get back home. Kids use programming commands to tell their character where to move and how to get past such obstacles as water, rocks, and trees, collecting jewels and hearts along the way. To move their character, kids drag command cards into the program. They can work with beginning-level commands, telling the character to walk or jump or turn, or use more advanced tools such as loops, goto commands, if/then commands, branches, and chaining. Kids can save their in-progress programs and email them to friends. A tutorial walks kids through the basics, and a written manual is included.
Is it any good?
Cato's Hike uses a method similar to other introductory programming apps: kids drag commands into a program to learn programming concepts. The adventure story adds a fun element, and the option for kids to create their own maps extends the challenge well beyond the included 60 levels. Kids can share their programs by email, which adds some social interaction and potential for peer feedback -- important in programming, especially when working on a team. Another great feature is the wide age range. Kids as young as five can solve levels using elementary programming skills, whereas teens (or adults) can get more advanced with sophisticated commands and logic. The story is a really fun addition, and even though the writing isn't stellar and the text includes missing words and punctuation, it's still understandable.
Families can talk about...
Encourage kids to replay levels to find more efficient solutions. Discuss how, in coding, there can be multiple successful programs but the cleanest code is the most efficient.
Review the written manual in the help section to get an overview of what kids do in the app.