STEM Product Review: A Day in Code
STEM Sparkers, we have made it to March! I do sincerely hope that everyone is safe and healthy after the crazy winter storms and you know, pandemic. PSA, if you can get a COVID19 vaccine when you're group is eligible, consider doing so! I plan to get mine as soon as I'm eligible.
Not sure how to segment into the next part of this week's blog, so maybe a computer programming joke? If you divide 2020 by 5, you get 404, so basically the year 2020 was an error. Yeah? No? Too soon? Anyway, I'm happy to introduce engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and author Shari Eskenas and her book A Day in Code: A illustrated story written in the C programming language to the blog. In exchange for a free copy of her book, I agreed to give an honest review on STEM Spark.
Will your kids like it and/or will you hate it?
A Day in Code has a fun and clever premise to introduce children to C programming. Two children want to tell their computer about their really awesome day, but the children learn that in order to communicate with their computer, they must do so in computer code, specifically C programming. So the children learn the programming language and proceed to input their fun day into the computer via C programming. Each cool activity they did for the day corresponds to code that the readers can execute themselves.
I read the book first before deciding that it read older than Jack's current kindergartner level; so Jack has not read the book. However, I do think this book would be a great learning tool for children ages 8-12 (in publishing that category is called middle grade). It is a book older elementary school children, and even some teens (although some might find the story part a bit young), could read at home on their own, or teachers/educators could use it as supplemental material when learning programming. The best feature of A Day in Code is the cool programs kids can run. The illustrations and story about the children are a bonus.
How long will it keep them entertained?
A Day in Code should keep the children who use it entertained for hours. There are at a dozen or so programs the kids can execute, and the first read through took me about 30 minutes. Definitely a book that will keep your older kids occupied.
Are they a good value?
So a comparable book is the DK Coding Project series, which sell in paperback for $19.99. A Day in Code, paperback, sells for $13.19. So it's competitively priced.
Ninja-like STEM Skills
Well of course there are ninja-like STEM skills in A Day in Code. Like I said above, I think the computer programs that kids can do themselves is the best feature of this book. One of the fun programs in the book is choosing which arcade game to play based on a number input. Kids are going to like programming a choose your own arcade game.
I do want to share that I had a hard time not comparing this book to one of my favorite coding books for young children, Josh Funk's How to Code a Sandcastle and How to Code a Rollercoaster. Like if you were to ask me to pick one series over the other, I'd hands down pick Josh Funk's series. But overall, I do think A Day in Code would be good educational supplemental material for older children, and you may be able to ask your local or school library to purchase A Day in Code so that you can check it out for yourself.
Thank you Shari for sharing your book with STEM Spark. Shari Eskenas has a second coding book coming out, this time for Python programming, called A Day in Code: Python. If your interested in pre-ordering it, check out her Indiegogo campaign here. Happy STEM-ing everyone!