App’s Puzzles Help Students Learn Fundamentals of Software Coding
Computer coding is one of the fastest-growing subjects in K-12 schools across the country. Its growth is being spurred by increased federal funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction.
A fun and visual way teachers can supplement classroom coding instruction is to add an educational app for digital tablets to their classroom-tech toolbox. A good one to consider is “Cargo-Bot” by Two Lives Left.
Targeting students in middle school and high school, “Cargo-Bot” introduces concepts of coding in a game format using puzzles to program an animated robotic arm to move cargo boxes in sequence across the screen. Students are exposed to basic coding skills and concepts, including:
- Critical thinking
- Problem recognition
The app was programmed entirely on the iPad platform using Codea, a touch-based programming app designed for iPad tablets. A compatible version is available for Android tablets.
How it works
There is no registration or sign-in required. After the app homepage loads, students launch the “Level Packs” starter page by tapping a finger anywhere on the screen.
The “Level Packs” page is anchored by five colorful navigation boxes that link to a tutorial and five puzzle challenge levels. Students start by tapping the tutorial box and selecting one of six puzzle icons.
The tutorial guides students through the mechanics of programming an animated robotic arm to move and arrange cargo boxes in a specific order. A toolbox in the lower right corner of the screen contains directional icons that students drag into programming lines with their finger to make the robotic arm move. Tapping the “Hint” button in the upper right corner of the screen offers guidance. When the icons are in place, tapping the green arrow icon at the bottom of the screen shows the results in a short animated video.
If the programming icons are arranged right, the robotic arm will complete the task. If it doesn’t, students can rearrange or delete the icons as many times as needed until it works.
When students are comfortable with the six tutorial exercises, they can return to the “Level Packs” page by tapping the “Menu” button in the upper left corner of the screen. Next, they tap a navigation box to launch a collection of six formal puzzles. Boxes are labeled by challenge level; it’s best to start with easy puzzles.
Stars are awarded for the shortest solution, and points are automatically earned and saved in each puzzle. Because the puzzles require students to concentrate and use problem-solving skills to solve them, puzzles are self-paced and students can take as long as they need. Puzzles can be repeated multiple times.
A collection of interactive features and tools keep students engaged and move the puzzles forward. The most helpful ones are:
- 36 puzzle tasks of increasing challenge levels
- Automatic scoring
- Colorful graphics
- Custom music and sounds
- Drag-and-drop movements
Additional tools let students save their puzzle solutions as captured video into their tablet’s photo gallery. From there, they can be posted on YouTube or other social media for sharing with teachers, family members or other students.
Content in the “Cargo-Bot” app is all-inclusive. Once the app has been downloaded into a device, all functions and features, including tutorials, prompts, puzzles, music, sound effects and saved video, will work without an internet connection.
However, students need an internet connection to share saved video of their completed puzzles with others on YouTube. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases.
The “Cargo-Bot” app is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes and is compatible with iPad tablets running iOS version 5.0 or later. It’s also available on Google Play and is compatible with digital tablets running the Android operating system 4.1 or later.
Rob Klindt’s “App Reviews” combine his passion for writing with an ever-growing interest in educational technology. His simple, straightforward approach to reviewing educational apps help educators and parents leverage new tools for students in and out of the classroom.