What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Codea is not a game, rather it is a software development tool that includes resources to teach kids to program in the Lua programming language. The free game Cargo-Bot was developed using Codea. Tweens and teens familiar with programming can pick it up and pretty quickly start writing their own programs, like games or other graphics, for the iPad. Those new to programming can alter sample programs to become more familiar with programming.
What kids can learn
- producing new content
- digital creation
Engagement, Approach, Support
Creating a program is not easy. Kids who aren't motivated by either the process or the end product may get frustrated with the tedious task of coding.
Codea gives kids the chance to learn hands-on. The sample programs, help tools, and boilerplate starter text for programs give kids a rich learning environment and teach skills that transfer into real-world application.
User-submitted example programs scaffold learning for kids by giving them examples to customize. A community forum gives them the opportunity to share their work and discuss and collaborate on ideas.
What's it about?
Starting with a boilerplate that includes the two required functions -- set-up and draw -- that serve as the hooks into the Lua program, kids then fill in the specifics of the program. CODEA is visual, so as kids type in the command, for example COLOR, a pop-up appears for them to choose their color from the color wheel. Kids will then see the code for the color they chose.
Is it any good?
Point kids to the GETTING STARTED section's Codea Wiki to try out the FOR KIDS tutorial. It offers a step-by-step guide for beginners. Codea as a development tool itself is fabulous, but the ease of use on the iPad along with the visual pop-ups within the code and the immediate response of code errors make it a winner for beginners. The tools and resources are easily accessible on the iPad, so the app is touch-screen generation friendly.
User-friendly, though, does not mean easy. Programming is challenging, and kids should not expect to pick this up for a few minutes and whip up their own featured app. Learning to program takes time, patience, and focus. The tool is straightforward, though, with no game-like bells and whistles, so kids will need to find some internal motivation to work through it. But for those who are motivated, Codea puts the resources kids need to learn and practice programing on the iPad.
Families can talk about...
Point kids to the GETTING STARTED section's Codea Wiki to try out the FOR KIDS tutorial. It offers a step-by-step guide for beginners.
Parents can work together with younger kids to alter an existing program to the kids' specifications.