Kids in grades 3-8 learn early coding skills while they move a robot around a factory maze. They program the robot to pick up battery packs and place them in their correct locations in this app for iPhone/iPad and Android devices.
There are 24 levels. You must complete a level to unlock the next one. Kids earn points and stars based on four criteria at each level:
- The amount of time it takes to succesfully complete
- The number of moves
- The number of attempts required
- The number of errors in the code
There are helpful visual clues to show kids each step of the code as it’s being executed. And when the robot fails because of an error, a big X marks the spot in the code where the failure occurred. But there are no hints on how to fix it.
The “code” is symbol-based controls of the robot’s movements. So it’s a good option for kids with reading difficulties or those with limited English skills.
The graphics and sound effects are engaging. The robot can be entertaining. He taps his foot or brushes his hair back when he’s programmed to wait in certain steps on a level.
The game is easy for the first few levels. But it quickly becomes more challenging, and more potentially frustrating for younger children. Because of this, it is best suited to kids like the challenge of solving complex puzzles.
Alternatives to Fix the Factory app
If your child or student is really frustrated with this app, here are a few suggestion for other symbol-based coding games.
Lightbot: Code Hour is another multi-level game in which kids also move a robot around a maze. You program the Lighbot to light up specific squares in the maze. The app also introduces kids to another programming concept – procedures. Procedures, or functions, are bits of code that can be called by other code for repeated steps. So kids learn how to make their code more efficient – that is, use the fewest lines of code needed to complete the task.
Lighbot is available online as well as for mobile devices. It’s free for all devices except the Kindle Fire.
Another good option is the ScratchJr app. It’s designed for younger children, grades K-2. Kids pick from four activities that make use of symbol-based coding. Kids have more choices than in the other coding games. They choose a background and characters. They can also design their own story or game, independent of the listed activities.
The ScratchJr website provides guidance for teachers using it in a classroom setting. It is free for all devices.