Google has launched a set of games where instead of just playing you write the code. Using Blockly requires little or no typing and lets young or novice programmers discover core coding principles in an intuitive way.
Since its appearance, Blockly has had a rapid take up and played a major role in last year's Code.org's own contribution to last year's Computer Science Education Week. Its Hour of Code tutorial took the form of a set of 20 Blockly-based puzzles designed to teach the basics of computer science for users aged "6 to106" with no prior experience and it is the language being used for Code.org's K-5 Computer Science curriculum that is about to be launched for elementary schools (kids aged 4 to 8) in the US.
Google Research has now come up with Blockly Games which is intended to "engage kids in constructive, meaningful learning" and turn them into tomorrow's programmers. However, as with the Hour of Code, anyone whatever their age can enjoy the fun - and absorb programming principles along the way.
There are seven graduated activities starting with a simple puzzle to introduce the idea snapping together Blockly's interlocking pieces. The maze game starts simple but gets progressively more difficult in order to provide an introduction to loops and conditionals and in Bird control flow is explored with increasingly complex conditions. When you get to Trutle you'll use nested loops to paint a picture and can publish your art to Reddit for the world to see.
Blockly Games is web based which has advatanges and disadvantages. If you try to access it at a busy time you may see this "Over Quota" error message:
It is perhaps an indication of just how addictive Blockly Games can be.
We are all more or less committed to using high-level languages, but there is always a background worry that they might not be fast enough for some tasks. An interesting set of benchmarks shows how to [ ... ]