Chibitronics Love to Code Creative Coding Kit
Chibitronics Love to Code Creative Coding Kit is a Chibi Chip Starter Kit for children ages 14 and up. It includes a Chibi Chip microcontroller mounted on a Chibi Clip (the clip is similar to one you might use on a fridge to hold papers), a circuit stencil, a single cable for both programming and powering the Chibi Chip, two 16 ft rolls of copper tape, 36 white LED stickers, 64 conductive fabric tape patches, and a book with an integrated battery holder for 3 AA batteries, which are not included. The Chibi Chip is powered by USB, so the batteries are unnecessary if an outlet and phone charger are on hand. To do any actual coding, kids will need a device with internet access and a headphone jack. No software needs to be installed; all the coding is done online and can be saved permanently on the device. The headphone jack is necessary because programs are encoded as sound waves, sent through the headphone jack, and decoded back into a program by the Chibi Chip. Scissors, tape, and/or paper are necessary for some activities.
The LED stickers and copper tape are meant to be consumable. If the 36 included LEDs run out, they can be bought online for $1 a piece in packs of 30. Rolls of copper tape can be bought online for as low as $0.10 per yard at time of writing. For the activities included in the book, however, plenty of LEDs and copper tape are included.
The book which teaches the coding is an interactive work of fiction in which a frog named Fern is being taught by her various animal friends how to make LEDs do cool things in her drawings. It starts simple, with making a circuit, and progresses to an open-ended project where kids can create their own light show and drawings. There are two languages available for use: a Scratch-inspired block programming language and ChibiSript, an Arduino(which is based on C++)-based text programming language.
The book explains in-depth not only what a child is supposed to be doing, but also why it’s done like that and how it works. There’s a debugging section at the end of the book, which helps children analyze and improve their solution until it works exactly as they want. Every chapter poses a problem, shows an example solution, tests it, analyzes it, and then has children apply what they just learned to solve a new problem (often making a cool drawing). By the end of their time with Chibitronics Love to Code Coding Kit, children should have a good idea of how programming works. And because they learned the same language as an Arduino uses, they already have a basis for the more complex (because of the increased pin count, if nothing else) programming that can be done on an Arduino.
Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: idea generation, test the solution, analyze the solution(debugging), make improvements to the solution(debugging), recognize patterns
Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: problem to be solved, client
Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: computational thinking, programming, working collaboratively, problem solving, perseverance, iterative design
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
- “I liked creating my own inventions!”
- “This toy let me be creative and design my own solution.”
- Rating: 4.7 out of 5.0
- “The kit had clear, in-depth explanations.”
- “I like how it encourages my crafty kid to think beyond her normal creations and inspired her to use science and coding to make her solutions come to life.”
Engineering and STEM Experts Reviews
- Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0
- “The kit encourages children to tinker with their own designs and use the designs they’ve created previously as a basis for solving new problems.”
- “I love the debugging section at the back of the book. They use lots of engineering design thinking in the debugging process.”