Microsoft and NASA to enable youngsters to learn computational skills and explore the Martian terrain unveiled "Kodu: Mars Edition" during a Curiosity Landing educator conference in Pasadena, Calif., on Aug. 3 at JPL.
Kodu: Mars Edition lets children create games for the PC or Xbox using a simple, visual programming language. The aim of the collaboration is to create compelling learning experiences that develop students' competency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), along with 21st-century skills.
The Martian adventure introduces new objects and new programming elements into the Kodu environment via the game levels and enables students to develop skills similar to those of real NASA rover drivers:
- "Search and Explore Mars: Students will determine the most efficient set of commands to navigate a rover across terrain using scientific data.
- Under the Rover's Hood: Students will program how the rover will move and act autonomously, as well as run trials to evaluate and refine their programming.
- Mars Mission Simulation: Students will design a simulated Martian environment and program a rover to explore Mars autonomously," informs Microsoft.
Kodu: Mars Edition, developed in cooperation with NASA's Mars Public Engagement Program, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Microsoft Research's FUSE Labs, is available for free download here.
For those not aware, Kodu can be taught by any teacher, no previous programming expertise required ages 8 and up typically have the most success. And, Kodu teaches more than Programming:
- Kodu is a rich tool for narrative creation and storytelling
- Kodu demonstrates that programming is a creative medium
- Kodu helps children with critical thinking, breaking a complex goal into manageable steps, and iterate on the design process - an approach applicable to all academic subjects, business and personal relationships
- Kodu introduces the logic and problem solving of programming
- Kodu introduces conditions and sequences, which teaches cause and effect
- Students learn about cooperation, logic and creativity in addition to programming
Read about Kodu pilot program in Australia's public schools.