Bitsbox aims to help teach kids how to code by sending them projects where they would need to code and create apps that would work on mobile phones and tablets.
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How does it work?
Each month, Bitsbox would send subscribers a that would contain the materials for one . Kids would need to go through the materials and select an to create. Once they have selected the that they want to do, they would need to go to the and then start the . They can copy codes from the materials sent to them, and they can modify any part of the to customize their programs. Once they are done, they can download the finished and run it on any or via a Web browser. To do this, they would need to scan a displayed on the screen.
There are three Bitsbox options available:
- Basic Bitsbox includes app projects perfect for kids from six to 14. You get a binder where you could put all the materials in. Monthly subscription rate: $24.95
- Deluxe Bitsbox includes all the apps you find in the Basic box, but includes stickers, toys, tattoos, collectible trading cards, and other fun stuff. Monthly subscription rate: $44.95.
- Digital Bitsbox Bitsbox also offers a digital version, where they do not send you a monthly box, because the projects are instead delivered via e-mail. Your kids will get the same projects and the same materials without using paper! Monthly subscription rate: $19.95.
If you are concerned that you will be wasting $20 or more every month and your kids will not like it, you can try out their coding environment. Access to that is free and your kids can try out some codes. If they are interested, you can subscribe for the Digital Bitsbox option, which would give your kids an idea of what they could do and what they could learn. While subscription renews automatically, you can easily cancel it any time you want.
The subscription box
The is sent to subscribers monthly and these would have different materials including new projects in and colorful booklets, a , temporary tattoos, stickers, and even discount coupons. This means that the kids will have something to look forward to every month, and it is not just projects but also things that they would appreciate while basic .
The gender neutral projects are quite interesting and are presented using colorful and illustrated booklets or trading cards. Best of all, these are projects that could form the basis for your ‘s own ideas. The point is to have the kids learn the in order for them to create their own. The projects are standalone, which means that you do not progress from one lesson to another. You can join in any time.
Some of the projects.
The projects included in the monthly subscription box ensure that your kid learns something new every month.
The Bitsbox.com site
The Bitsbox.com coding module is also very kid-friendly. As they copy the codes from their trading cards or booklets, the kids would get a preview of what each line does.
What’s in every box?
While the contents of the box differ month to month, they will follow a certain theme.
It will contain:
- (1) activity book with dozens of simple apps that your kids would be able to copy and modify.
- Trading cards with more codes.
- Fun stuff such as toy, stickers, and temporary tattoos.
- (1) Parent’s Guide that will help parents teach and guide their kids with the projects.
- Discount vouchers for educational toys.
Pros of Bitsbox
- Good for Youngsters: It is never too early for kids to start learning how to code.
- Makes Coding Fun: Learning how to code can be boring, as it requires practice and time. But Bitsbox makes learning how to write a program very fun and easy. With the colorful materials from Bitsbox, as well as the different freebies, your kids would actually look forward to their monthly Bitsbox package.
- Excellent Value for the Price: You might think that the monthly subscription fee of $20 to $45 is a bit steep, but there are a lot of projects included for each month. What’s more, Bitsbox evidently spent a lot of time creating awesome and fun graphics. The backgrounds, the sounds, the music, and the graphics are all top-notch. This is unlike earlier coding environment for kids, which had very poor sounds and graphics.
Cons of Bitsbox – What Could be Better?
- Hotkeys Would be Helpful: Bitsbox relies too much on typing code, so it would have been better if they were able to provide hotkeys for their interface, especially for those commands that are used often, so that the kids do not have to type in everything. Also, textual coding tools would have made Bitsbox a little bit more fun and less time consuming, especially for an excited kid.
- More Subscription Options (Cheaper): Another thing that would have made Bitsbox even better is if they offered cheaper subscriptions that include less projects every month. This way, parents would be able to choose a budget-friendly option that could help sustain their kids’ interest in coding for a very long time.
- QR Code Issues: Problems with QR codes. Bitsbox also uses a QR code to help the kids download the finished app onto their mobile devices. QR codes are very useful marketing tools that bridge offline materials with the online world. If you have not seen a QR code yet, it looks like a pixelized box usually made up of black and white blocks. You would need to scan it with a smartphone that has a QR code scanner app. Some earlier uses of QR codes include linking trailers to movie posters.
- Needs to be Streamlined: But here’s the thing. You are already online. It would have been much easier for Bitsbox to have some sort of link sent to a particular mobile phone or to provide a short URL that would allow the kids to download their apps on their devices. For a product that encourages kids to type, using a QR code and requiring kids to download and install the scanning app, makes very little sense.
Ideal Age Range for Bitsbox
The Bitsbox site claims they are right for ages 6-14, but that’s a fairly broad range. By way of introduction, 6-7 might be the earliest but probably 11-14 is where kids can truly sink their teeth into them. Of course, introducing these projects a bit earlier is a GREAT way to challenge young minds.
Final say about the Bitsbox
Bitsbox certainly makes it more fun for your kids to learn how to code, and makes it very interesting. The subscription model ensures that your kids will continue to learn as long as they are interested to learn and it certainly gives them something to look forward to each month. The projects chosen for every Bitsbox has been meticulously vetted and are appropriate for kids, while the online graphics and other online assets are really excellent.
It does, however, involve a lot of typing and that might be a problem with younger kids. That would have been easily solved if the kids were able to call up content tools to make the typing less tedious. For those kids who are patient and eager to type the codes into the Web interface, the projects could help them learn how to type faster, apart from honing their coding skills.
Bottom Line: Bitsbox isn’t a flawless learning system, but it’s a great step in the right direction. It drastically moves the educational tech space forward!
Further read: The Next Household Robot – Robotic Pets?
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!