Move The Turtle
Age Recomendation - 5-up (reading simple instructions)
Overall Rating - 5 stars
Technical Data: Size 24.6 MB
This is an amazingly fun app that entranced my boys for hours at a time. The goal is to teach Computer/Robotics programming....yup you read that right! This program teaches a student to input lines of codes (commands) and the cause & effect that results. The program is very simple. There is a tiny turtle on the screen and on the left is a column where the student adds the lines of code. The student can go free-style and make the turtle do anything they like, or they can follow the lesson plan. The lesson plan is very simple. First the student is told to move the turtle in a straight line in order to get a diamond. They add the 'Move' command and set the correct distance, then click 'play' and watch the turtle perform the action. Step by step the instructions get more complicated - moving the turtle in a square, making it jump over a stream, etc. the student isn't having to learn the specific and confusing language of C++ or HTML code, instead they use language they understand, even youngsters, 'move', 'jump', etc.
As a former aeronautical engineer i used to program robots to perform activities and tests humans couldn't do. This program is very simple - no the student won't be ready to program a robot tomorrow, but it is a great place to start. In all that jumble gobble-dee-gook of computer program language, each line of code is for a specific purpose. This program is a great place to start a student thinking in these terms.
Downside? You might never see the tablet/ipad again as this program is somewhat addicting.
Computer Programs That Are Similar:
SCRATCH (cost = free) this is an introductory program designed by the students at MIT. The downside of this program is that there are zero instructions or step by step lessons. Here the student just starts playing around, but the student can choose from different characters
ALICE (cost = free) just about the same program as SCRATCH. But this one was designed by the students at Carnegie Melon University. You can also take a step by step class through ITunes U for ALICE, which is great for those kids new to programming programs. My 10 y/o used ALICE to design his own video game where a bi-plane and a star ship race across the topography of Mars.