Coder Academy, written by Sean McManus and illustrated by Rosan Magar, is a book for children seven and up. The book is interactive, and comes with stickers to mark completed activities and the necessary materials for some extra games. Any of the activities will require something to write with, some activities require two people, and most activities require a computer with internet access. The book eases children into learning about coding, starting by explaining what code is and how it works. It then teaches them how to write programs in Scratch, a common block-based programming language.
Once the children have learned how to think like a programmer and how to write code, they get a certificate from the book to mark their achievement. There are three more certificates in the book, each of which highlights a different application of coding. The “Computer Artist” certificate has children create their own animated character to star in a Scratch game. The “Computer Musician” certificate has children create their own tunes and instrument in Scratch. The “Website Designer” certificate has children create their own webpage using HTML.
Once all the activities are done, there’s still a couple games to go through. One of the games, Coding Pairs, is a variation of “Memory” which uses cards that are printed with objects that use code rather than numbers. The other game is called “Robot Programming Challenge.” In that game, the “maze” side of the included poster is used as a game board. Players assemble the included, punch-out robot models and roll dice to randomly place them and a target in the maze based on a coordinate system. The goal of the game is to pre-program the robot to move through the maze to the target. If the robot hits a wall, it stops there. The closest robot wins.
Beyond programming, Coder Academy teaches several fundamental engineering principles. The book boils down to a series of problems and solutions that the reader learns about, analyzes, and tests. Activities provide clear criteria and constraints and collaboration with others is encouraged. As such, Coder Academy is a great foundation for aspiring programmers and engineers alike.