App review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2019
Root Coding
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Root Coding

First-rate versatile robot for all ages

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Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
Pre-K–12
Subjects & Skills
Creativity, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking
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Pros: Dive right into the fun with accessible intro tutorials, no experience needed.

Cons: Most free content focuses on Level 1 activities for younger students; more advanced instruction requires a paid subscription.

Bottom Line: By encouraging artistic design and creative problem-solving, Root Coding fits right into your STEAM curriculum.

You don't need to know a programming language or understand robotics to introduce Root Coding in your classroom. Root Coding has detailed tutorials that can teach anyone how to use it, and how to code, in tiny baby steps. Even the most basic tutorials are fun; build and navigate an obstacle course, compose a song, write your initials, or create an artistic design. Once you and your students have acquired some basic skills, there are plenty of guided activities to choose from and a blank template for custom projects. One activity type is called "Finish the Story," where students code Root to respond to a particular story prompt. Following this template, teachers and students can easily create their own prompts for Root's adventures. Root Academy, available for an annual subscription fee, offers additional tutorials, lesson ideas, and printable activity cards. Some of these activities include making decision trees, number lines, and vocabulary games.

The app has a built-in simulator, enabling students to test their code without connecting to the robot. Use this feature to encourage students to refine their code. The simulator is also great for classrooms with more students (and iPads) than robots.

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Root Coding is the app for interacting with the iRobot Root robot. Root Coding gets students started with step-by-step tutorials, adding commands and introducing features one at a time. The app also includes interactive activities and game-development guides, plus a blank template for students to create their own projects. On the programming screen, students can toggle between three different coding levels, making each activity accessible to students with varying programming skills. Level 1 uses graphical blocks for prereaders, Level 2 shows the code in familiar Scratch-style blocks, and Level 3 displays full text code.

The Root robot can draw with a dry erase marker, both on a flat surface and on a vertical magnetic whiteboard, and follow a line. It accepts voice commands, plays music, and has 30+ touch and optical sensors. Each robot comes with a whiteboard mat, markers, and decals to support programming activities. An optional paid subscription to Root Academy gives students and teachers access to a coding curriculum.

Root Coding teaches coding with an engaging interactive robot. The activities offer detailed directions yet encourage creativity by letting students choose the parameters, inputs, outputs, and goals. Built-in scaffolding ensures that students find success regardless of their level. With one click, students can toggle between graphical and full-text coding as they learn the syntax and structure of coding languages. Students will also be motivated to improve their coding skills as they strive for more nuanced control over the robot.

There's a lot of great content available in the app without the Root Academy subscription, and new tutorials are added frequently. The Root robot's hardware is equally impressive: It climbs walls, draws and erases, senses its environment, plays melodies, and supports custom accessories. With Root Coding, you could build an elementary coding program, supplement a secondary programming course, or grow your library's makerspace.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Root Coding delivers an interactive, fun environment that appeals to learners of all interests, from game design to music composition.

Pedagogy

Scaffolded lessons are flexible and versatile to support all learners; on-screen activities are paired with creative, hands-on learning.

Support

Step-by-step tutorials, engaging videos, and in-app tips empower every learner to find success and enjoy the process.


Common Sense reviewer
Melissa Powers Media specialist/librarian

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