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The math game my daughter and her friend created with Codesters

by Tom Johnson on Mar 28, 2018 •
categories: technical-writing

My 13-year-old daughter and her classmate recently created a math game designed for fifth grade students learning variables. They used Codesters, which is a website that uses Python to let kids code directly in the browser in an easy-to-learn way.

My daughter wanted to make learning math fun for fifth graders by integrating scenarios played out by characters. Her game, called Fibonacci’s Adventures in Mathematics, focuses on learning how to use variables. You can play this interactive math game with the embedded instance below (click Run).

Or go directly to the code here and click the green play button.

They did this project for a science fair — the following image shows a printout out the code. There are literally about 30 pages of code here:

They used Codesters to create the app. Codesters uses Python and a mix of block-coding and raw code designed to help students learn to code. You can drag blocks into a code window, and the blocks convert to code when dropped; or you can just work in the code directly.

Creating a sophisticated application involves much more than dragging and dropping blocks, as you can imagine. Once my daughter understood the code, she started working directly in it and created some complex logic.

My daughter and her friend created this entire project from start to finish. A couple of brief times, I helped her overcome a simple glitch. But her code eventually became quite complex, and her function names were more fun and creative than descriptive, making the code nearly impossible to anyone except the creators. This project engrossed her like no other, and she stayed up many nights fixing and adding to the code. (I think she may have a knack for coding.)

The Codesters platform is ingenious in that it allows learners to start easy with block coding but then switch into raw code to do more advanced logic (such as the if-else logic that lets users input incorrect answers about 7 times before moving on). The site also offers excellent tutorials. Best of all, you can immediately see if your code works by clicking a play button and seeing the result. The ability to change the input and immediately see the result has a huge impact on learning complex subjects.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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