Coding this mouse for fun!
I remember attempting to code on a computer when I was nine years old and becoming quickly frustrated. Most of the skills required for coding were not my strengths; however, as I have gotten older and developed these skills, I realize how important they are in the workplace. Coding challenges your problem solving skills as well as promotes analytical thinking and sequential thought processes. These are abilities that are not only needed in STEM fields but in all future careers which is why I want to promote coding with my children.
Learning Resources released the Coding and Go Robot Mouse Activity set which is perfect for children five years old and older to introduce them to coding at a level they (and sometimes I) can understand. This adorable mouse invites children to program it to reach the cheese with assessing where the cheese is and pressing buttons. You do not need to know binary code to help them as once you can understand the basics of this toy the possibilities for play and learning are endless.
How does it work?
The goal of the Coding & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set is based on the mouse getting the cheese. A sequence of steps can be programmed in the mouse, named “Colby”, to reach the cheese. The mouse can be placed in a maze that is created using the 16 maze grids, 22 maze walls and 3 tunnels. Learning Resources provides 10 double-sided Activity Cards which give ideas on different challenges for children to do. The difficulty is that you will need to enter a step-by-step path for the mouse to touch the cheese but when it does the mouse will make sounds. There are two speeds but as beginners we have only used the slower speed.
We, and by we I mean me, struggled to program Cody appropriately to get his cheese until some experimenting and using the 30 double-sided coding cards. Children can lay out the cards to plan out the steps needed to program into the mouse. These cards are wonderful visual cues which helped us tremendously.
Eventually, the “we” playing with Colby was my son and his grandfather who abandoned the activity cards of suggested mazes to create their own. They moved the cheese around offering it obstacles with tunnels and different paths. It is an absolute joy to hear my son yell “turn, turn, turn” as he observes if he successfully programmed the mouse. Since it is a quick exercise, I appreciated that he quickly saw if his program required modifications. Instead of frustration and whining, he was so excited to make changes and see what happens.
What is clever about this toy is that as my son becomes more confident he doesn’t need to use the maze grids but program Colby on the floor. Learning Resources also sells a second programmable mouse, Jack, that can be added to augment play and learning. Children could compete to program their mouse to reach the cheese faster. While this would not be a rat race, it would be a lot of fun!
Where can I buy it?
Coding & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set is can be purchased on Amazon for less $40. You can also add another mouse, Jack, for less than $25 on Amazon so children can race the mice. We were first exposed to a toy similar to this at Liberty Science Center at their Rubik’s Cube exhibit several years ago which invited children to program robots in a maze. It is so wonderful that now young children can have access to this type of toy to enhance STEM learning!
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