Dylan is a big Star Wars fan and is enjoying learning coding skills at school. So it was a no-brainer when we were offered a copy of Star Wars Coding Projects for my Padawan to help review!
This new title published by DK is a step-by-step guide to coding using the free beginner coding language, Scratch. As well as providing an introduction to coding and using Scratch, it includes six full projects to try out. These include a good mix of games, animations and simulations.
Projects include Build-a-Droid, Use the Force! and Jetpack Adventure. Each one introduces new coding skills and there’s advice from C-3PO throughout. Other main characters appear regularly too, of course. It was nice, for example, to be congratulated by Darth Vader upon completion of our first project!
I hadn’t encountered Scratch before, but Dylan was already familiar with it. Indeed, I often found myself checking the next step in the book only to find that he was already two ahead of me!
It’s all clearly explained, well designed and easy to follow. This makes what could otherwise be a daunting challenge for beginners both accessible and fun. We really enjoyed working through the projects together. I say ‘we’ – it was more a case of me watching him and trying to keep up!
The first project is a game called Cargo Bay Chase. It features the platform’s signature cat sprite, an energy ball and an evil robot.
The object is for the cat to catch the ball and avoid the robot. Each time the cat succeeds, the player scores a point. Each time the robot does, however, it gets faster. If the robot catches the cat, it’s game over.
This involves creating five different scripts. It may sound complicated, but it’s not. This is achieved by dragging colour coded blocks with different commands to the relevant part of the screen. It’s all very intuitive and the book mirrors this with child-friendly explanations of the process.
It was brilliant to see how quickly Dylan’s confidence grew. This isn’t always the case with new skills, so I’m really pleased. He keeps asking to start new projects too and this can only be a good thing.
Star Wars Coding Projects is a fantastic introduction to an increasingly important skill. It’s an ideal gift for kids who are new to coding and should set them up with both the knowledge and confidence to create their own games and animations using Scratch.
Star Wars™ Coding Projects, © & TM 2017 LUCASFILM LTD published by DK, £12.99.
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