The endearing coding resource
A review of Osmo Coding Starter Kit.
If there’s one thing in the world I’m jealous about it would be being a kid right now. Aside from not having to pay rent, or keep up to date with what restrictions are in place due to covid-19, I would have a world of gamified learning at my fingertips.
Since I am a giant kid, I thought I'd review the Osmo Coding Starter Kit. While this kit is for children aged 5-10, I think it’s best to look at this product in regards to its educational purposes. Even though I want to just have fun, I’ll be wearing my critical thinking hat too.
In the Osmo Coding Starter Kit, you get the Osmo base and reflector, three coding games, 31 coding blocks, and one stackable storage case. You also get a cute sticker and one sheet of instructions, which are incredibly endearing and simple (hopefully a good sign for what’s to come).
Plus hidden on the inside of the box is an illustration of an astronaut, with a tearable piece which leaves just a big enough gap for your kid to poke their face through, and voila! Your kid can now pose for a picture as an Osmonaut!
To get coding you’ll need:
An email account
An iTunes account
The Osmo World app
After a minor freak out, I realised that hand-me-down iPad was just new enough to be compatible with this kit. I have an iPad 2, so there’s no need to rush out to buy the newest version.
How does the Osmo work?
You sit the Osmo on the base and place the reflector on top of your device’s front facing camera. The reflector bounces the image of the coding pieces which you will place in front of the device into the camera. The app then processes the image in the app.
It seems pretty simple because it is. In the games you place the coding block in front of the device, and touch the screen to move your character or progress the game. I expected some level of lag because (maybe) the reflector wouldn’t capture all the pieces of coding blocks properly. I wasn’t pleasantly surprised to find zero amount of lag.
When you install the app, the interface allows you to slide from game to game, each one you have to install separately. The three games that are compatible with this kit are:
Just snap together the coding blocks to lead your character, Awbie, on an adventure to collect delicious strawberries.
Compose your own music (and share them with friends) by snapping together patterns and loops of coding blocks.
This game features the beloved Awbie and his friend Mo who work together to solve puzzles. This will build upon your coding ability.
The games are repetitive enough so that you can quickly grasp which coding block correlates to which direction or action in the app.
It quickly becomes clear that these games are designed to teach kids the relationship between commands (coding blocks) and actions (what the blocks make the character do). It also enables the player to problem solve if they stumble. On top of that the musical elements allow the kids to explore creativity while learning the basics of coding.
To keep track of your child’s progress, there is Osmo Parent, an app that provides daily reports, gives tips and tricks for each game and allows you to see drawings your children have made.
Endearing and enduring
Overall I think Osmo Coding Starter Kit is a fun resource to engage kids in what will no doubt continue to be a highly sought after skill. On top of that, there is huge potential to combine creativity with STEM learning. It’s a tangible and fun way to learn but it comes with a AUD$ 179.99 price tag. However, provided that the age range is from 5-10, there’s potentially, five good years of learning there.
Osmo Coding Starter Kit launches August 4 at JB HiFi, Officeworks and Harvey Norman.
All images supplied by Osmo.