Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2016
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Robots, Arduinos, and drones -- the block coding app to rule them all

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • Math
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: Provides hands-on programming experience controlling robotics and drones.

Cons: Teachers will need to allow time for recharging and reconnecting devices.

Bottom Line: Impressive tool for introducing block coding and robotics on a ton of devices.

Tickle's website and social media platform highlight ways teachers have used Tickle in their classes, from solving equations using number lines to geometry lessons. Classes will be limited to the connectable devices available to them, but teachers can have students work in groups, perhaps on different devices if possible. Other groups can create programs to run on the tablet itself.

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Rather than controlling only one robot or device, Tickle lets students control a variety of robots, drones, Arduino, and other smart devices. Navigation includes Projects, where students can see demo programs, alter them, or create new ones; Courses, which takes students out of the app and online to view even more demos and lessons; and Devices, which highlights the Star Wars BB-8 robot, several droids, Arduino Bean, Dash & Dot robots, Sphero, and more.

To create the programs, students drag visual blocks of code into place, linking them to create the program. If they don't have a device, they can still program simple in-app games. Teachers should know that students are instructed to tap and hold a confirmation message saying they have adult help if they're under 13.

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Dragging blocks of code into place and customizing bit and pieces -- such as colors, directionality, and sounds -- is the standard for teaching basic coding, and that's just the way Tickle does it. The interface isn't all that unique, but the implementation sets it apart, allowing students to see that code runs all kinds of devices and tools.

The process is scaffolded so that every student can be successful. A program is already loaded when students open the app, and a hand guides them through the features. They're then left with the program in place to play around and make any changes. Once they're ready for more of a challenge, students can start their own programs from scratch. Self-assessment is built in as the programs run: Students will inevitably hit a snag where the program stops or doesn't perform as expected, and then they'll have to reevaluate, redo, and try again.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The format is similar to other programming apps that use code blocks, but the range of devices that students can control with Tickle sets it apart.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students can change preloaded programs to scaffold their learning experience or start from scratch once they know what they're doing.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The in-app guide shows how to use features, and help is available while programming. The Tickle website includes links to lesson plans and other ideas for classroom use.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Lauren S. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Middletown - North High School
Middletown, NJ
Visual Coding App for Robots, Drones, and More

Tickle is a visually appealing app that assists students learn principles of coding while also allowing for student movement and manipulation of objects with many options for curriculum tie-in. Younger students will need assistance syncing devices through Bluetooth connection to run the programs.

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