Like my younger self who eagerly awaited the delivery of the Weekly Reader, I checked my email hourly on the 20th of the month for the arrival of my Bitsbox subscription. Within in short time I wrote and modified apps to create hopscotch games, to design new constellations, and to put on a fireworks show. I also learned new programming vocabulary including arrays, randomness, and looping. Bitsbox had me at hello!
Children (and adults!) can create their own accounts, and then type the codes provided to create the apps. Extension activities include questions, challenges, or suggestions to change a part of the code to experiment with the output. To make typing easier, the creators (Scott Lininger and Aidan Chopra, formerly of Google), encourage new programmers to use laptops, desktops, or Chromebooks. After the user types the code and presses the green arrow, the app runs in the virtual tablet onscreen. Then he or she can share the app through social media, or access the app on their tablet or smartphone through its QR code.
I appreciate Bitsbox because it reminds me how I used to teach my students how to code using HTML almost 14 years ago. My students typed simple HTML code that I had written for them into Notepad. Then they saved it as a Notepad file and also as a webpage file. Through toggling back and forth between screens, they experimented and learned about color, commands, and proper punctuation. Bitsbox offers a similar, though simpler, experimental platform. I plan to introduce Bitsbox for students after they complete the Hour of Code program. Bitsbox helps users to progress to the next level by crafting fun projects that require input of code. Try Bitsbox yourself and you'll be "appy" you did: https://bitsbox.com/
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian