Nov 25, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Hopscotch- Coding for Tweens

Welcome back to Tech Tuesday! I love trying out different graphical coding platforms and my latest coding adventure has been with the coding app, Hopscotch. I've discussed using Scratch Jr. before (another coding app), but Hopscotch is a different program for youth that is geared towards older children, specifically 8-12 year olds, otherwise known as tweens.

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Hopscotch can be downloaded for free here for the Apple iPad. This app has won plenty of noted awards, such as the 2013 Parent's Choice Award for mobile apps and a 2014 KAPi Award winner for Best Educational Technology. So why is Hopscotch so awesome?

As Tech Crunch puts it, "Hopscotch’s special sauce is to be mobile device focused. Its graphical programming language has been specifically designed for use on the iPad". The app focuses on making coding easier by using graphical elements that kids can drag and drop to build programs. The program is basically just like Scratch and Scratch Jr. in concept and functionality, but Hopscotch is just for iPads. Common Sense Media has reviewed the app positively, pointing out that,"Kids get the support they need to create programs and build confidence before they encounter the intricacies of coding". You can watch a short YouTube video here demonstrating how to build in the app.

I personally love the fun graphics in Hopscotch and think that the cute creatures and cheery, bright colors in the app will be especially appealing to those kids who are not as interested in the more industrial look of other graphical coding programs. Another favorite feature of Hopscotch is the ability to program actions to be activated by different events on the iPad, like shaking the iPad. An example of how this could work is that a child could program a bear to jump up and down whenever the iPad is shaken! The open-ended nature of the app is wonderful and allows children to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills while also practicing their tech skills and even fine motor skills for those children not adept at using a touch screen.

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This app is another great stepping stone to building greater digital literacy and a wonderful in-between program for kids wanting to move on to more complicated programming platforms or even to a real programming language such as Python. As PC Mag says, " ...even though Hopscotch isn't "real" programming and the programs themselves can't run outside the iPad, kids wind up learning programming concepts such as conditions, loops, branching, and variables.".

Interested in trying out Hopscotch but don't have an iPad or in need of some extra help? Stop by the library and use one of our iPads or ask for the Emerging Technologies Librarian, Nicole (that's me!).

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Kids in grades 3-6, if you love exploring with technology, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming Creation Station programs that will begin in 2015. In February and April the library will be hosting Creation Station programs after school that will be tech-focused, creative and super fun!