How Let's Start Coding Rebooted My Son's Interest in Coding in 4th Grade ~ Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Monday, March 9, 2020

How Let's Start Coding Rebooted My Son's Interest in Coding in 4th Grade

My son is lucky to have had coding classes since kindergarten. He used Dash & Dot robots that were awesome thanks to the easy drag-and-drop coding environment to program their adorable robots for a variety of missions. He loved Dash & Dot for years, but around 3rd grade, his interest in coding started to fade. I was bummed because he had always loved coding and working on problem sets with his friends and then suddenly lost interest.  In hindsight, I think that he just needed a bigger challenge and to try something new. That's where Let's Start Coding came in -- their trendy sets are packed with challenges that allow older children to have both a hands-on experience with various physical components, as well as, a more advanced coding environment.  My son is back to a place where he loves to code again and I can't recommend the Let's Start Coding brand enough!

As I mentioned, my son has outgrown the drag-and-drop coding phase and has been ready for a bigger challenge. At the same time, Lego Mindstorm was a bust because it was too advanced for him.  Let's Start Coding is brilliant because they recognized the gap between sets for your children and then overly complicated full-on coding environments. For instance, we started with the Let's Start Coding Code Piano.   This set is really cool because, as I mentioned earlier, it allows your children to play with both code and actual hardware components.

The coding part is nice because they provide a shell of code that my son was able to modify.  He didn't have to make the leap from drag-and-drop coding to writing an entire class from scratch. Instead, their environment and shell code gently introduced him to "real code" that had a nice design and good variable naming/comments so that he could gain exposure and make edits to the code.  As an Engineer, I know that many students fail introductory coding courses and that the retention of students is a big area of study.  I have tutored others in coding courses before, so I know a lot about the struggles. My experiences allow me to appreciate that the Let's Start Coding kits are well organized and designed in a way to make coding fun and productive. It's easy to jump in to do cool things. My little future tech mogul rocked out with his little Code Piano and had fun advancing his coding skills.  (I think that I'll always have fun memories of hearing the piano sounds coming from his room for hours on end while he had fun!)

If you happen to be buying this set for a birthday gift, you may consider putting a bow on the box and selecting the Happy Birthday Song Code when you present it to your little one.

We also tried the Let's Start Coding Ultimate Kit 2. This kit is generously packed to support 110 projects!  We are talking hours-and-hours of entertainment and coding fun with everything from simulating a Magic 8 Ball to small games.  The kit includes:
  • Maker Board 2 microcontroller
  • Maker Screen 3 programmable LCD screen
  • Flexible LED light strip with 15 rainbow-colored pixels
  • Light Sensor
  • Sound Sensor
  • Temperature Sensor
  • Two multicolor LED lights
  • One red, one green, and one blue single color LED lights
  • Mini speaker
  • Turn Knob
  • Retractable USB cable
  • Reference cards for each component and common code concepts such as loops, functions, syntax, and 'if' statements.
Equally important, the kit also includes software/code to quickly make use of the components. When you buy a Let's Start Coding kit, you get much more than a box of 'stuff'. Free with every kit is access to their downloadable coding software for Windows, Mac, or Chromebook computers, plus tons of learning content. For the Ultimate Kit, this includes:
  • Over 100 sequenced project pages that cover the fundamentals of all coding languages
  • Over 2200 lines of example code that can be modified or tinkered with
  • Nearly 9 hours of walkthrough videos that accompany the projects,explaining how the code works so kids can make changes of their own
  • Code 'challenges' and 'bug hunts' that encourage kids to interact and engage with the code, strengthening their learning.With a computer, a kit, and an internet connection, the projects can be accessed from anywhere, with no login required, so you don't have to worry about forgotten passwords or account headaches.

My son has been unusually quiet for the past couple of weeks because he has been plugging away at different projects in this kit. My favorite was the Magic 8 Ball. 

He knows that I've been exercising and dieting in attempt to lost my last several pounds of weight since my youngest was  born. He programmed the Magic 8 Ball to give me encouraging messages. He told me to ask it if I will lose weight or reach my goal. Every single answer was supportive because he customized it to give me encouragement. Isn't that the sweetest?!    

I'm thrilled that Let's Start Coding relit the fire in my son to get back into coding.  I wish that I would have found these kits sooner.  I also wish that I would have identified sooner that he was just bored with his robots because they were too easy. The Let's Start Coding was perfectly suited to his developmental stage and has made coding fun again!

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