Cool Software for Kids

August 6, 2011 — Leave a comment

This is a little off topic from the normal posts on interaction design and UI design patterns. But I was really impressed by the software my son used at two camps this summer:

  • Game Salad for designing games for the iPhone and iPad
  • Lego Mindstorms NXT for the robotics camp we hosted for seven 10-12 year olds this week.

Game Salad

This installed application for the Mac has a slick drag and drop interface and makes it pretty simple to design a multi-level game for the iPhone or iPad. In one week my son created a 10 level game with a fire breathing dragon. The only thing that would make this tool better is if they offered image libraries for use. I would have definitely paid to license a library instead of spending an hour trying to find the “right” dragon egg for my son to use in class the next day.

Lego Mindstorms NXT

The NXT software is pretty cool because it has a simple drag and drop GUI, but you can also use Python for development. There are sample programs to download that even show best practices for commenting code. In our camp, the kids built their own robots from scratch and coded them.

Here’s a short clip of the final robot war. The goal was to be the last one in the ring (black tape triangle) after pushing the rest of the robots out.

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