Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

App Review: Lightbot

Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

App Review: Lightbot

Article excerpt

Reviewed by Caroline Ormesher and Dannynay

The Lightbot app is part of the Hour of Code initiative which aims to make the basics of computer science accessible to all. Lightbot is a game which requires logical thinking to solve puzzles by building sequences of code. The game is organised into a series of levels and each level in the game requires the player to write a sequence of commands for a robotlike character to follow in order to light a series of tiles.

I tried the free app (aimed at 5-13 year olds) that comes with the Hour of Code resources and found it accessible, engaging and challenging. The app has three sections. It starts with the basics then moves onto procedures and finally loops. Each section has a number of levels within it giving the player a chance to become familiar with different commands and concepts. The basics section gives a gentle introduction but the complexity of sequences that you are required to create builds rapidly throughout the three sections. As I worked through the levels, I found the mathematical thinking I use for recognising and creating sequences and patterns coming into play and I had to think carefully about which sections of a sequence to repeat when writing procedures with loops in them. The program allows the player to try out sections of code as they are devised and this helped me to be able to keep progressing when new commands and levels of complexity were introduced. There are a limited number of spaces for the player to drop their list of individual commands into and this is cleverly devised as there are only enough spaces for the most efficient sequence, the one that uses the least number of commands. …

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