Teaching coding to kids can be a little challenging, especially with Arduino. Text-based coding is extremely intimidating for those just getting started, and it’s extremely easy to run into errors if you don’t know what you’re doing.
In the classroom, things can get messy pretty quickly. If you’re a digital technologies teacher (or have even dabbled in tech teaching), the raucous of 25 kids all having technical difficulties at once should be familiar.
That’s why we built Code Kit, our new block-coding app for Arduino – to make teaching Arduino infinitely easier.
In a nutshell, here’s what this looks like:
- Drag ‘n’ drop blocks together (no text code!)
- Wide selection of sensor/loop/function blocks
- Upload code directly to the Arduino board on app*
- Supported by the friendly EduKits Team 🙂
Although code kit is a desktop app, you can use it on the web without any software download (or account) required. You will automatically be greeted with a blank file to have a play around with.
Your first blocks
The code is created by dragging and dropping blocks within the app and arranging them in a certain order. In the toolbox to the left of the screen, you can view all the categories of blocks the app has to offer.
To add a block, click on one of the categories and then click and drag any block on to the workspace (the white section in the middle of the page). You will see in the pane to the right that the code of this block is automatically generated for you.
The input/output category contains all the blocks you will need for working with lights, sounds, and sensors. Start by dragging some of these into the workspace to see what they do.
The logic category contains all of the if statements and logic blocks, which can be used will with input from sensors and any of the blocks found in the maths category. Will also want to take a look at the loops category which will allow you to repeat sequences of code.
The variables category allows you to create and store text and numbers to be used in different places throughout the code. This is useful for more advanced programs.
Copy and upload
Once you have finished all creating your code, you can either copy it or download an Arduino-compatible file. If you are using our Mac or Windows app, you can hit the upload button to send the code directly to your board.
Save and open files
It’s a good idea to save your finished code file to your computer, in case you want to edit it at a later time. The save button is in the top menu bar, and the adjacent load button can be used the next time you open the website or application.
How does it stack up against alternative options?
When we set out to create an Arduino block coding app, we wanted to create the easiest option for teachers and students to use. Here’s why we think our (free) offering is better than some of the other options out there.
The Arduino IDE
This is the default software for writing and uploading code to your Arduino board. However, it’s difficult to teach with due to the high learning curve of C++, and the fact that code errors are always lurking around the corner.
Code Kit is easy and quick to learn. Code errors? Basically a thing of the past, seeing as you don’t have written syntax.
On the surface, Code Kit might just look like a flashier version of Ardublockly. We don’t blame you – our blocks app runs on the same framework, but there’s a lot more going on under the hood with ours.
One of Ardublockly’s biggest limitations is the fact that it’s no longer maintained. The web app is quite buggy and the desktop applications no longer seem to work at all.
Code Kit allows you to upload code directly to your Arduino board, without the Arduino IDE installed (unlike Ardublockly). We also test our apps extensively to make sure they work on both Windows and Mac.
We know, we know: this isn’t an app for coding Arduino, but we thought it would be worth mentioning due to its popularity. And we love scratch, but it doesn’t work with hardware coding.
There’s just something special about writing code and see it physically do something in the real world, whether that’s making an LED blink or setting off a series of extremely annoying noises. (Check out our Amazing Annoyatron if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Code Kit lets students see their code actually doing things in the physical world. Really, it’s something special.
What’s the cost?
Cost? There’s no cost. Code Kit is, and always will be, completely free for you to use inside the classroom and out.
How do I get started?
Get started and have a play around on your first project by heading to the Code Kit web app.
No software download is required, unless you’re looking to upload code directly to your Arduino board. In that case, head to our Code Kit webpage on the main EduKits site for the Mac and Windows software downloads.
Yikes! Something on the app isn’t working!?!
Yeah, that’s not good, and we apologise. Code Kit is a new app, so there will be a few bumps here and there and some things might not work as expected while we’re ironing them out.
Please get in touch with our team to report any issues with the app or to request that we add any features. We appreciate it.