Celina
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We're doing Junior First Lego League this year, and next year we'll be getting the bigger kit with the actual robotics & software. I thought it might be a good idea to get the kids used to the thinking behind programming with a game or two. They don't have to program this year. The kids are all very bright, and between the ages of 6-9. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Our science center had a course on "program a staff member to make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich", but it was $100 per kid.

I thought Girl Genius: The Works might be good, as it has cascading effects. I appreciate any ideas anyone might have.

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Swood
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RoboRally or Space Alert contain the abstract idea of programmed actions, with RoboRally being more thematically appropriate.

In RoboRally, there is no "programming fundamentals" per se, but rather the idea of laying out a sequence of actions and pressing "Enter" to see what happens.

Cheers!
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David Molnar
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Check out this list...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/10997
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Hmmm...

Roborally is the classic programming game, but it's out of print and I have a better idea. (: An old programming game (way before Battlebots!) was to create robots with simple programming commands, then use a simulator to see which ones survived the arena. (The simplest robot did nothing and won a few fights!)

Example cards:
* IF
* Condition: See a robot
* AND
* Condition: Within 3 spaces ahead
* THEN
* Attack

The first games are simple, then become more challenging (eg. robots in later arenas now need fuel to move, must first pick up weapons, etc.).

If you have teams of programmers, Space Alert is a coop game which uses programming mechanics. Dominion is useful to understand chaining.

Of course, you can use a parlor game in which the kids in the room program you to do something simple and you screw it up. The kids shout out the commands and conditional statements, an assistant writes down the programming, and, after the programming is done, you pervert the programming. For example, if you're filling a cup with water, and the command is "walk to the cup", you then walk to the cup -- and knock it over.



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Daniel Danzer
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Another geeklist:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/1910/item/298157#item2...
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Anthony Simons
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Well at first I thought of Ad Acta because it can be used as a metaphor to help them get to grips with how a computer processor might deal with instructions. But that's probably not what you had in mind.

I would suggest Himalaya; you program your moves beforehand in that one too. I'm not sure of its availability, however.
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Rebekah B
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bOOLeO is a game that teaches logic gates. There's no theme, though, so it may not be terribly appealing to that age group.

Robo Battle Pigs is a free game that uses programmed action. I've also made a PnP programmed action game. It's not yet available on BGG, but everything you would need for it is available here:
Squirrel Squabble
In Squirrel Squabble, you can still make decisions after programming your actions, though, so it may not be what you're looking for. On the other hand, it's free and pretty easy to make, so you could send it home with the kids. (It's still being playtested, but I think it's pretty stable at this point.)

A while ago, I was actually working on a game that I could use to teach my own kids programming logic. It was a pretty simple mouse-gathers-cheese-while-keeping-away-from-cats game, but it had multiple levels of difficulty. This thread has made me more interested in pulling that one back out and polishing it up.
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Roborally's a good call.

Dominion might also work. Beneath the slapped-on theme, it feels just like certain kinds of coding.
 
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Rebekah B
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Also, not a game, but a fun way for kids to get some programming basics is by using Scratch.
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Fearsome Floors

Really. Look into it.
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sq498 wrote:
Also, not a game, but a fun way for kids to get some programming basics is by using Scratch.


Alice is good as well.
http://www.alice.org/
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Celina
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sq498 wrote:
bOOLeO is a game that teaches logic gates. There's no theme, though, so it may not be terribly appealing to that age group.

Robo Battle Pigs is a free game that uses programmed action. I've also made a PnP programmed action game. It's not yet available on BGG, but everything you would need for it is available here:
Squirrel Squabble
In Squirrel Squabble, you can still make decisions after programming your actions, though, so it may not be what you're looking for. On the other hand, it's free and pretty easy to make, so you could send it home with the kids. (It's still being playtested, but I think it's pretty stable at this point.)

A while ago, I was actually working on a game that I could use to teach my own kids programming logic. It was a pretty simple mouse-gathers-cheese-while-keeping-away-from-cats game, but it had multiple levels of difficulty. This thread has made me more interested in pulling that one back out and polishing it up.


Thank you so much. Please let me know if you decide to release your other game.
 
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Celina
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Geosphere wrote:
Fearsome Floors

Really. Look into it.


Um, maybe for when they are older. Thank you for the suggestion, I'll keep it in mind for a few years from now!
 
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Celina
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molnar wrote:


Lovely, thank you so much.

I also found this:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/34929/page/1

For my age group, I think Roborally might be a winner.
 
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Celinashope wrote:
For my age group, I think Roborally might be a winner.
Roborally may be too complicated to use as a game for the younger kids in your group, but one really good thing is that it doesn't have to be played competitively. You can give your students puzzles; here are 20 cards, here's your robot, can you figure out the order to use to get it to the target before it dies?

The only real drawback I think is that roborally cards don't include any of the "if, then"-type things that are so important to actual programming. But to show kids how computers follow exactly the steps you tell them to, whether these steps make sense or not, roborally may be just right.
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wmshub wrote:
Celinashope wrote:
For my age group, I think Roborally might be a winner.
Roborally may be too complicated to use as a game for the younger kids in your group, but one really good thing is that it doesn't have to be played competitively. You can give your students puzzles; here are 20 cards, here's your robot, can you figure out the order to use to get it to the target before it dies?

The only real drawback I think is that roborally cards don't include any of the "if, then"-type things that are so important to actual programming. But to show kids how computers follow exactly the steps you tell them to, whether these steps make sense or not, roborally may be just right.


Thanks, I hadn't thought of that. We are just starting, and next year they'll get the kit with the software, so I just want them to get comfortable with the thinking process (oh, and me too).
 
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David C
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Celinashope wrote:
We're doing Junior First Lego League this year, and next year we'll be getting the bigger kit with the actual robotics & software. I thought it might be a good idea to get the kids used to the thinking behind programming with a game or two. They don't have to program this year. The kids are all very bright, and between the ages of 6-9. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Our science center had a course on "program a staff member to make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich", but it was $100 per kid.

I thought Girl Genius: The Works might be good, as it has cascading effects. I appreciate any ideas anyone might have.



There's a utility called ALICE, and another one called SCRATCH. I really recommend both of them. The boardgames are nice, but... I've never seen programming so accessible in my life.
 
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