In disadvantaged communities like Masiphumelele a coding game like Tanks is often out of reach for children attending schools here.
Tanks is an innovative coding game that brings computational thinking to life with a fun interactive app used to teach learners the principles of basic coding via problem-solving skills. The coding game aims to introduce learners between 10 and 14 years old to basic coding skills. It uses tangible puzzle pieces and image recognition technology and does not require a computer – learners can play the game on their mobile phones via the app.
A shortage of computer scientists and an even more serious need for coding and software development facilities in South Africa’s low-income areas prompted the idea of Tanks.
Tanks in The Maths Lab at Ukhanyo
Developed in 2017 by Nelson Mandela University (NMU) computing sciences student Byron Batteson, NMU’s associate professor in computing sciences, Jean Greyling, says it has reached over 19 000 learners across the country. It has 35 levels and at the end of the game, learners would have been introduced to the very basics of coding in the same way that first-year computer science students are.
“There’s a desperate shortage of developers, not just in our country, but in the world. Unfortunately, thousands of learners in the country attend schools where they have no access to computers, so they can never choose software development as a career option,” says Greyling.
Maths is the base of most coding languages and Masicorp’s Maths Lab has always been at the forefront of new teaching methods. The team at The Maths Lab were delighted when they got a copy of the coding game for free. Tanks has given our Maths Lab the opportunity to introduce learners to the basics of coding (‘loops’, ‘while loop’, ‘if statement’ and optimisation) and it is proving a useful tool in the lab because of its ability to ignite a passion for learning in a fun, interactive way.
Learners work as a team and with the help of group members and a whiteboard, they are moving through the levels and getting to see first-hand how a computer takes a set of instructions – interprets them as a language and then processes that language for an outcome. It is extremely exciting as this was a first for most learners from Ukhanyo Primary School.
This is another way technology is accelerating learning in today’s digital age. With a mobile phone and some puzzle pieces, learners in disadvantaged communities like Masiphumelele get a brief introduction to a new career path through a coding game that is educational and fun.
Masicorp works with Ukhanyo Primary School using Learning Labs models that are aimed at helping children with Maths and English skills. This non-fee-paying school faces many challenges – overcrowded, under-resourced classrooms make it difficult to learn and that is why our programmes are so vital in helping children from Masiphumelele succeed. Individual attention and holistic teaching methods are making an impact on young lives. If you want to help us continue our work at Ukhanyo Primary School and help the community of Masi donate here. For more information on what we do visit our website or call us on +27 021 785 1923.