|CoderBunnyz aims to teach children (and even adults) how to program in a "really fun way" / Photo by: San José Public Library via Flickr|
When asked what they want to do when they grow up, rarely would kids say they want to learn computer programming. Kids like computers, sure, but are they interested in the mechanism that makes them work? Perhaps not, but a new board game is looking to change that.
CoderBunnyz aims to teach children (and even adults) how to program in a "really fun way." What's even more impressive about this game is its creator is not a major tech company from Silicon Valley, but an 11-year-old kid from California.
CoderBunnyz is an educational STEM game that helps children learn "all the concepts you ever need in computer programming," according to inventor Samaira Mehta. She added that the game will help children understand basic coding concepts such as sequencing and conditionals as well as advanced concepts like loops, functions, stacks, queues, lists, parallelism, and inheritance, among others.
In a review of the game, board game blog Nonstop Tabletop explains how it's played:
Players start by choosing their bunny color and deck, with the first player choosing the location that everyone will race to. Every player will roll dice during their turn and the number rolled is the number of cards they will play from their respective decks.
The goal is to be the first player to move their bunny around the board and reach the location in the center. Players will do so using their cards that have either a basic or advance move on it; forward, left, right, jump, repeat or function (allows a sequence of cards).
|CoderBunnyz is an educational STEM game that helps children learn "all the concepts you ever need in computer programming," according to inventor Samaira Mehta / Photo by: Tim McCune via Flickr|
Nonstop Tabletop says the game's variations allow for players, regardless of their skill, to enjoy the game.
"Carrots can be added to the board, which must be collected before reaching the location. Obstacles such as puddles and fences also block players from moving quickly," the board game blog says, explaining the other features of the game.
"Advanced cards can be added, which allow players to repeat their moves and function cards allow [a] player to create a string of moves. There are also Bug-FixIt tokens which allows players to retract some already played moves."
It's this variation that will players of all ages to enjoy it, according to Nonstop Tabletop, saying this allows CoderBunnyz to "grow with the player." Not only will they learn the basics of concepts, but players will also develop other skills such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, and sequencing.
The fact that it is kid-focused also helps pique children's interest in coding—making CoderBunnyz a great educational game.
How it Started
The conceptualization of the game started when Mehta was about seven years old, after her father began teaching her how to code. In an interview with CNet, a tech news website, the young CEO spoke about how much she enjoyed coding.
"I asked my dad to teach me this coding thing, and the moment I started, I fell in love with it," she said. "That's when I realized this is something I want to expand upon."
She first wanted to learn how to code to prank her friends (which she eventually did) but things took a turn when she noticed that her peers "didn't have the same passion I did" when she talked about coding.
"And I was like, 'Why is it this way?' Coding is something I believe is really fun. So I mixed my love of board games and my passion for computer coding together to create a board game that will teach kids coding," she said.
She then began to push for the game; sketching the design of the game and contacting manufacturers through dozens of emails until they got a product that Mehta said she's very proud of.
|She added that the game will help children understand basic coding concepts such as sequencing and conditionals as well as advanced concepts like loops, functions, stacks, queues, lists, parallelism, and inheritance, among others / Photo by: Pexels via Pixabay|
The young entrepreneur told CNet that she used the game with her friends, who started to gain an interest in coding. It's then that she realized that she wanted to do workshops for kids who want to learn computer coding.
"I’m really passionate about coding," she said, as per business news site CNBC. "I want the kids to be the same way because coding is the future and coding is what the world will depend on in the next 10 to 15 years. So if kids learn to code now, [when] they grow up they can think of coding as a career option."
Mehta and her work have received praise from major tech companies like Google and even from prominent figures like former first lady Michelle Obama, who wrote a letter to the young entrepreneur. Aside from expanding her business, Mehta created a coding-based AI board game called CoderMindz that focuses on teaching kids the concepts of AI such as training, inference, and image recognition.
She is also leading an initiative called "Yes, 1 Billion Kids Can Code," which aims to help a billion children worldwide gain access to STEM and coding tools.
"Because even if they don't choose to become a professional coder when they grow up, I believe a basic coding understanding can make them better thinkers, leaders, dreamers, and creators of the next generation," the child CEO said.