ThinkFun has been making interesting games for years with the desire to make learning fun for students. It’s no surprise then that their latest line of board games has been aimed at teaching young students a skill that will become more and more necessary as we move through the 21st century: coding and programming.
ThinkFun have released three new entries in their coding boardgame line-up: Robot Repair, On the Brink, and Rover Control. These three games teach different fundamentals of coding and programming, from the way programmers think and using logic and core concepts to understand how lines of code work. The games were designed by Mark Engelberg, who used to be a NASA researcher, and they look to bring coding more into the mainstream.
On The Brink is the first game in the series. It aims to build up the mental skills they need to understand basic coding concepts. The idea is to move your robot across a map containing colored squares to the finish point. Using a challenge booklet and movement cards, the player solves the puzzle by determining what action the robot should take based on the challenge laid out in front of them. Rover Control, the second game in the //CODE series, teaches key computer science concepts such as control structures, loops, and conditionals. There are 40 challenges in Rover Control, each one testing your ability to follow instructions to color pathways that the Rover can follow to complete its mission.
Robot Repair is the final game in the //CODE series, and this is the one that is the most advanced in my mind. Robot Repair teaches Boolean logic principles, an integral part of programming. While playing Robot Repair, you’re essentially trying to repair the robot’s brain. The game board itself is the brain and you use the challenge booklet and the power cell tokens included with the game to solve the puzzle. The game is even available as an Hour of Code game online, for those who want to try their hand at solving its puzzles.
Robot Repair and the other games in the //CODE series teach kids to think critically about the problem in order to be able to solve it in the end. ThinkFun has an interesting concept that teaches coding and programming concepts at the kitchen table rather than tied to a screen, and it works by all accounts. Using the game at home with my kid has seen some great results as she’s been able to solve puzzles in On the Brink and Rover Control on her own whereas when we started she was unable to get past the first puzzle without help.
ThinkFun’s goal of making learning fun has by and large successful since the company started over 30 years ago. The //CODE games, which are available in Target stores if you’re looking to get your hands on them, is able to teach valuable concepts and grow a desire in kids to learn more about coding and programming. And with technology and jobs being so intertwined right now and definitely into the future, these types of games aim to help kids learn at a young age to foster that desire to learn more in the years to come.