Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coding in the Classroom - Beyond Cargo Bot

by Brad Waid

Since the beginning of the year my students have embraced coding in our classroom.  It all started with our use of the iPad app Cargo Bot (see previous post of "Coding" in the classroom).  As you know we are big fans of cargo bot and speak about it in our presentations and on our show.  But, this article is going to go beyond cargo bot and explore a few other excellent coding apps for kids.

Here are the apps we are going to look at in this article.

Trac Labs

Kodable is an app that allows students to program a furry creature to roll through a maze.  Students have to program the creature to turn and navigate through a maze to escape through the other side.  It is another great app to get kids to start to understand the fundamentals to programming and coding.  It is perfect for students from ages 5-10.

Lightbot is an app that I found on the fantastic website  The goal of lightbot is to light up all  squares by turning them blue using programming.  You program a robot to turn and jump on the squares and when the robot lands on the square it turns it blue.  This programming activity engages the programmer and gives them immediate feedback.  It is perfect for students from ages 5-12.

Trac Labs is an app where you program a robot and experience augmented reality at the same time.  For this you use your device and when the scanner pics up the target a large robot appears on the screen.  Once you see the robot, you can program all of it's movable parts.  This allows you to program the robot to carry out movements that you program.  This app is very engaging due to the Augmented Reality and a great way to work on programming skills.  This app is great for students from ages 8-15.

Hopscotch is an app that blends using pre-programmed tiles and allows the programmer to change certain sets of variables.  Students to choose a creature and program it to carry out certain task like; drawing a line, getting larger, react to movement etc.  One of the cool features of Hopscotch is that students can choose more than one creature to carry out a task and then when they "run" their program all the creatures carry out their task simultaneously.  What really turned my students head was a program that they found where someone had used multiple creatures to create the Sydney Opera House.  One of my students took that as a challenge and within a couple weeks, he had programmed a bunch of creatures, that when the program was ran, they drew a detailed house.
Here is the video.

Using this wide array of coding apps in my classroom has allowed all my students to find a coding app that is not only the right challenge but fits their learning style as well.  The coding apps are highly  recommended by myself and my students.

We hope you find these app not only engaging but useful and helpful as well.


  1. Thanks for sharing these great coding apps. Giving the students more varied experiences will help to decontextualise their computational thinking.
    Do you think down the track you might help them to create code that is usable outside of the particular apps?

  2. I'm having trouble finding the Trac Labs. Can you share a link for this? I searched in apple store and did a general search online. Thanks! It looks really exciting!