Computational thinking is nowadays widely discussed and investigated. There are two main approaches used to teaching computational thinking skills in schools: 1) with computer programming exercises, and 2) with unplugged activities that do not require the use of digital devices or any kind of specific hardware. While the former is the mainstream approach, the latter is especially important for schools that do not have proper technology resources or Internet connections. In this article, we set the focus on teaching computational thinking skills with unplugged activities.
Bunceeman Code is an unplugged coding game students can play to enhance their computational thinking skills, inspired by the CodyRody DIY Starter Kit, but created using the materials provided by Buncee. If you want to play this in your classroom, you can find all the materials in this Buncee! In this game, Bunceeman is a robot who executes instructions set by coders (players). Players can play individually or in pairs.
To play Bunceeman Code, players each choose a Bunceeman game piece, and decide who starts first. Player one places the different items (shown above) on the game board. These items include pathways, obstacles, and rewards that players can encounter, and they also include the castle pieces. Each player must direct their Bunceeman robot to reach their castle, and whoever reaches their castle first wins!
Players are then given a number of instruction cards that they can use to direct their Bunceeman robot across the board to their castle. Player one goes first, and will be given 30 seconds to arrange the instruction cards in the right order, so their Bunceeman robot can reach the castle. There are four instruction cards: Forward, Backward, Turn Left, and Turn Right. When the time is up, player one will move the game piece one space at a time, according to the order of the instruction cards they laid out. Player 2 will check and make sure the moves have been executed correctly.
I had my students play the Bunceeman Code game in the classroom. At first, they found it challenging to understand, create a path, navigate, and reach their destination in such short timeframes. However, after trying few times, they were able to practice their problem solving skills, and they found it very interesting to learn, play, and “code” in this unplugged activity.
They had a great time! Some of them commented that the pictures are attractive, and gave some feedback to improvise the game flow. While they were having fun, they were in fact learning and practicing their computational thinking unconsciously while they played! Play is a great way to encourage students to learn coding skills with no fear at all. And as students develop their computational thinking skills, through games like this, they are laying the groundwork for applying these skills as they learn about coding in more depth later in their academic careers!
Meet the Author
Goh Kok Ming is a primary educator, currently serving at one of the Under-Enrolled Schools in Perak. He is passionate about teaching and learning, and is especially excited about integrating technologies to help students learn.