Pros: Lessons, challenges, and games offer a wide variety of applications for code.
Cons: Requires hardware purchase; free content covers only Level 1; there's little multilingual or accessibility support.
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 teach how to use it, and how to code, in small 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. Subscribe to Root Academy for additional tutorials, lesson ideas, and printable activity cards. Some of these activities include making decision trees, number lines, and vocabulary games, so you can either let kids choose based on interest or set the same challenge for them all. The app also 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. With Root Coding, you could build an elementary coding program, supplement a secondary programming course, or grow your library's makerspace.
Editor's Note: Root Coding is no longer available.
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 helps 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. Young learners and early readers may need extra support navigating the platform and understanding tasks. 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.
In terms of accessibility, the site offers multiple languages, but the app doesn't. However, it's not clear what the language selection actually changes on the site. And the embedded videos don't have closed captioning on the site or the app. So, while all of the in-app help is super valuable, it's not accessible to all students.