June 3rd – MIT App Inventor

Today is looking at a free version of the iPad platform specific program from yesterday – Codea.  MIT App Inventor uses the drag and drop Block based programming language from Scratch and turns it into a IDE for Android devices.

June 3rd – MIT App Inventor

Full disclosure, this resource should be and will probably be “A Week With” series later in the year – but I wanted to introduce it now while it’s on the top of my head.  As the year winds down, the sun is up earlier in the morning and later in the evening, the birds are chirping and students can’t wait for summer.  It’s a difficult time to keep them in their seats with AP test over and summer plans on the horizon.  I’ve always used this time for projects as students are typically more interested in something they’ve chosen to do versus what I’m telling them is important.  This is the time of year for MIT App Inventor.

In my courses I’ve gone through Scratch and SNAP, learned a little bit about Processing and the students are wrapping up and thinking about Final Projects, I always have a few students looking for a challenge.  I tell them to check out MIT App Inventor and I typically don’t hear from them again – they are really into it.

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MIT App Inventor uses two view to help students understand the backend and frontend parts of design.  The backend uses blocks to create the code similar to Scratch and the frontend is straight forward dragging and dropping design elements that you’ll designate functions to in the backend.  There are dozens of tutorials online (and here) so this might be a great tool to show students that can handle it and over the summer I’ll do a “A Week With” series and everybody can try it out for next years courses.

June 2nd – Codea

Codea is the iPad IDE that created yesterday’s post, Cargo-Bot. With Apps being all the rage today, Codea created an App that you can create other Apps for – very thinking outside the box vision there.

June 2nd – Codea

Codea flips the script on traditional programming.  For a majority of the App out there you need to know Objective-C (or Swift, Java, C++) and then a IDE on your computer which you can program onto, then have a developers account (Apple products) or upload to the store and try to get found – this is a lot of work.  Codea brings all that experience to one device, in the palm of your hand.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.53.38 PM
Two Lives Left Codea Home Page taken June 2nd

Within a few minutes of downloading Codea, you can see how easy it is to play around with the existing samples and figure out the mechanics of the program.  Color Pickers make graphic design easy, and asset libraries make creating characters a snap.  Within a few swipes you can change one of the existing programs and suddenly you’re hooked.

I feel most people today, including students, are attracted to the visual aspect of things.  Codea seems to understand that and caters to those needs perfectly.  It’s a pricey download ($14.99) but worth the trial (versus purchasing more tries on Two Dots, when you can just wait a few minutes…) so check it out!

June 1st – Cargo-Bot

Today we are sticking with the video game theme, but jumping to the present day.  Educational video games are now being produced in the 100’s with new apps coming out almost every single day.  Some are good, some are bad – all are reviewed by Common Sense media.  One that ranks high on Common Sense is Cargo-Bot – mainly because it’s strictly educational.

June 1st – Cargo-Bot

Cargo-Bot is a free download for your iPad – it was developed and created on an iPad using the Codea software (post on this tomorrow).  Cargo-Bot is a logic based game which the user/player/student gives instructions to the Cargo-Bot to stack the boxes in a certain order.  The game gets progressively harder as you are introduced to loops, multiple programs and conditionals and you can also have an efficiency score (stars) to see how well you used your “code”.

This is exactly what I love about Computer Science.  You just have to try: you have a problem with multiple solutions – find one.  Once you’ve found it, you aren’t done (although you can be) – find an easier way/find a more efficient way and keep getting better.  There are dozens of games like this out there, Cargo-Bot was just one of the first I found and it’s really good.  It’s a free download for your iPad so check it out – and don’t blame me for how much time you end up spending on it.