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How to Code a Rollercoaster

Author: Josh Funk
Lower Age: 4
Upper Age: 8
Year Added: 2019

How to Code a Rollercoaster, by Josh Funk, is a short picture book for ages 4 and up, written to take complex programming concepts and make them accessible to young readers by comparing them to the design of a roller coaster. This gift promotes engineering thinking and design by demonstrating that even a day at a theme park can teach valuable engineering thinking concepts. In one example, the book relates variables to different things in the park, such as the total amount of money the main character has, whether the line is short or not, or what the secret password for a free extra coin is. All of these are simple in spirit, but relate on a larger scale to engineering thinking. Being able to relate the logical concept of spending and decision making with programming concepts goes a long way towards making programming concepts accessible to the novice reader. 

Along with helping the reader learn about the problem, this gift promotes engineering thinking by encouraging the reader to create, implement, and test solutions to everyday problems. By integrating computational thinking, creative thinking, and programming with idea generation, the gift also presents readers with the opportunity to create something rather than just thinking and plan. Implementation of a solution is just as important as the development, and this book does a fantastic job of bringing that out in a young reader’s perspective.


Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: Define a problem, plan a solution, test the solution, and make improvements to the solution. 


Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A problem to be solved by developing a new or improved object, tool, or process.


Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: Computational thinking, programming/coding, problem solving, and perseverance. 


Overall ratings:

  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews

    • Rating: 4.33 out of 5.0

    • Feedback:

      • “I think this is a great introductory gift for readers because they can see how everyday logical concepts are very relevant to basic programming essential."

      • “The book does a good job explaining the basic terms.”

      • Introduces good programming practices from a gram roots stage, and works to make it intuitive for the children who use it. Creative. Never seen something like this before.”