Lightbot

A great app to introduce children to computer programming

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What is it

Lightbot introduces children to computer programming through a fun puzzle game. The mechanise of the game is firmly rooted in programming concepts. The players gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops and conditionals, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels. The basic idea of the game is that children have to make the light bot walk to the highlighted square (at later levels squares) and turn the square’s light on. They need to choose the right instructions, in the right order to get the robot there – selecting them all one at a time then pressing ‘play’ to see if they were right. Initially the robot simply needs to walk forward 2 squares and turns on the light. The required route and actions becoming increasingly more complex as the player progresses through the levels, introducing new programming concepts as they go. Lightbot features 50 levels and there are 20 challenge stars to collect.

What our team of testers said

"I enjoyed it but it was hard" - Girl aged 9

"That was easy! I know how to play this game and I've never played before" - Girl aged 8

Skills Developed

  • Introduces concepts of computer programming
  • Helps children think strategically
  • Encourages children to read instructions

What our experts think

It’s great to see an app introducing computer programming concepts to children. With Computing becoming a UK national curriculum subject for Key Stages 1 and 2 from September 2014 this is a subject youngsters need to understand and this app provides a great grounding. Different children responded to this app in different ways with some picking up what they had to do immediately and others needing a little more help to get started – reading the instructions was definitely worth the time (a useful lesson for children to learn in itself)! This game provides a real challenge as it progresses and is really addictive for puzzle loves of all ages!

It would be even better if...

It would be great to have a little more support for parents and children initially getting started. A demo video and some background for those without any programming experience would be really appreciated, as well as the option to get more help throughout.

Play Suggestion

We encourage parents to play this app alongside their children so that they can better understand some of the concepts of computer programming that your children will be learning through the National Curriculum.

There are also ways to take some of the ideas from this app into outdoor games. For example, a 2 player game where one is blind folded (the player) and the other (the instructor) instructs him/her on how to get to a particular place using only pre agreed instructions (like walk forward one step, step up, turn left). You can develop this game in lots of directions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Encouraging the player’s sense of direction by getting them to guess where they’ve ended up
  • Encouraging the player’s wider senses through questions about what they can hear or touch
  • Including a ball or other object – the instructor has to instruct the player to the right place to pick up the object and to another place to put it down (e.g. in a bucket).

Obviously, be extra careful of potential hazards in the area whenever anyone is blindfolded and do not play this game particularly near water, drops or other dangers.

Features

  • Brands: Lightbot
  • Key Features:
    • No 3rd party adverts
    • No in-app purchasing
    • No internet access required for core features
  • Child Restrictions: Yes - no restrictions required
  • Languages available: American English, French, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Norwegian, Slovenian, Romanian, Indonesian, German or Polish
  • Appropriate child restricted areas? Yes - no restrictions required
  • Apple version: iPhone, iPod Touch
    Requires iOS 5 or later
  • Android version: Requires Android 2.3 and up
  • App Types: Educational Apps
    Games
    Homeschool Resources
  • Types of skills developed: Coding
    Cognitive
    Computing and Technology
    Information & communication Technology (ICT)
    Logic, strategy & problem solving
    Memory, concentration & attention
    Understanding the world

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