Review: Kano’s Harry Potter Coding Kit Teaches Code Kids in a Fun, Attractive Mode
Kano, a company that makes a series of coding kits for children and new ones in programming, recently release a Harry Potter themed kit complete with a programmable wand that is perfect for Harry Potter fans who want a playful way to learn some basic concepts of coding techniques.
The cost of kit is $99.
The Harry Potter Coding Kit is designed to allow users to build a magic wand, and then program that wand with various gestures that can be used within the Kano app on iOS, Android, PC or Mac devices.
Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit begins by walking users through putting together the pieces of the wand and explaining the different components. There are two black plastic wand pieces, batteries included, a rubber button, and a Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
In the instruction manual, Kano will explain all the components of the Printed Circuit Board, such as the power controller, the micro controller, various sensors, Bluetooth, connector, a light, motor vibration.
Users are walked through by attaching the pieces of the wand, from inserting the batteries into the PCB to put the PCB inside the wand cabinet and sealing everything. It’s a simple process, but the way Kano walks through each step and explains each component makes the experience interesting and fun. The wand is equipped with a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer, which allow you to calculate the orientation, direction, movement and speed of movement, all the components necessary for the virtual casting of spells. Kano explains that all this data is transferred to the computer (or iPad), where it has become a code that can make effects occur within the Kano application.
Kano wand is made of a black plastic material and has a simple conical hexagonal design. There is a button on the base and an LED light that changes color. An optional sling is also included, which can be wrapped around the wrist so the wand does not fly out of the hand when you wave it around to cast spells.
Unfortunately, the wand does not look like any of the wands that the characters in the Harry Potter film use, which are all made of wood (in movies / books) or resin (the amusement park of replicas) and quite distinctive. I wish smarter wand design could have been incorporated as I am sure that most people prefer a wand more like Harry or Hermione, but it is not an imitation of wood grain and does not look decently wand.
The wand is powered by AAA batteries that come with the game (along with an extra set), and in my experience, the battery life was not very large. Kano recommends taking the batteries when the rod is not in use, but that is a nuisance. Taking the separate wand requires fidgeting with a connector on top to pull the two pieces together, which I did not find easy to do. I did not remove the batteries and they died after a week, even when I was not using the wand much.
Once the wand is put together, the rest of the coding experience kit is based on Kano software, available on iPad and on PC / Mac. The software is similar on any of the platforms, but with drag and drop gestures on the iPad . For some of the application of the interaction, you will need some kind of support for the proposition of the iPad .
I tried both the iPad application and the Mac application, and although I preferred the Mac experience, the two applications worked in a similar way. Kano says that his iPad the application is still in beta, though, so there are some bugs that have yet to be resolved. As a note, I have found that a larger screen works better because there is a lot on the screen to be treated.
The Mac app can not be opened by default without changing the Mac’s configuration to allow unidentified developers, which some parents might not be a fan of. Your progress is saved through a Kano account, so you can change the devices at any time.
Kano app takes the form of a map of Hogwarts and its surroundings, with different unlockable challenges available in each area.
The application starts with a tutorial that jumps to the right in the coding process, asking the children to start by changing the color of the wand light. Each challenge coding breaks the code below into a series of block puzzles that must fit together to create viable code.
The idea is to drag the different blocks of codes on the screen and connect to each other in the correct way to complete the challenge in question. Before you can cast a spell with the wand to affect what’s on the screen to finish a challenge, you have to do all of the bit coding.
In the Harry Potter universe, learning a spell takes quite a lot of practice, and the same is true with the Kano Coding Kit, so the coding experience feels a bit like going to Hogwarts. You can not levitate a pen without the proper pronunciation of the Wingardium Leviosa (Ala-GAR-dium Levi-O-sa) in Harry Potter, and you can not levitate a pen in the Kano application without the correct coding of the steps.
Events, logic, mathematics, variables, color, objects, physics, loudspeaker sound, loops, vibration wand, and more are the different aspects of coding the application of progress through each tutorial.
Coding the challenges to get more and more complex as you progress through the app, and the important thing is to read the text blocks and pay attention to what will be able to complete the increasingly difficult coding of Puzzles that come after finishing several coding tutorials.
A tutorial is included for each small challenge, but then it culminates in puzzles that must be solved without instructions to use block coding to create the code based on what was learned through the previous lessons.
With all the challenges, wand position is displayed on the screen and elre are the options to make the visual and interactive part of the challenge-such as pygmy puff dyes, levitating a feather, multiplying chocolate frogs, or lighting fireworks – full screen.
Some of the coding of puzzles that must be solved can be difficult, and because the suggestion or the help system was not included or a way to skip the hard content, it can be frustrating. The trick is to go back and try coding tutorials again until all aspects of the puzzles can be solved. I do believe that the app would benefit from a suggestion system, though.
Each challenge and a tutorial that can be improved with the coding of the additions, if desired, and the movements and steps that can be practiced again and again. You can also save your creations, but it is worth noting that everything that saves is loaded into an online service where anyone can comment on it. There is no option to disable this function, which I saw, which seems to be an oversight.
As you progress through the coding of challenges, experience is gained and items are unlocked that can be used with a customizable avatar within the application. The avatar also levels, such as coding tutorials and challenges that have been completed, which provides a sense of achievement and progress.
Kano has some pre-made scenarios to experiment with for users who want to test complex coding that can be done with the coding kit, and there are also options to test content created by other users. In my experience, however, much of this was the basic content that I had already gone through in the tutorials since as mentioned before, every time a person saves after a tutorial, it is uploaded to this database for all users for access. Some healing, here would be fine.
For the most part, the application is free of errors and the experience was without problems. My wand connected to my Mac and was recognized by the Kano app, although it made me think it was difficult to do some of the wand movements for various spells. I had a bit of trouble with my wand guide oriented in the correct position on the screen sometimes to complete the more complex challenges, but other than that, it worked fine.
I only ran in one major mistake. In a challenge that requires library levitation, when changing a variable, the game does not let me progress. There is no way to pass by, I could not finish the content in the area, because the rest was blocked.
The Kano app has great Harry Potter content themes and graphics, and I do not care that simple graphic style, but I would like to be adopted a bit more from the Harry Potter universe movie in terms of music and acting voice. It would have been great to hear some of the emblematic music, but in spite of everything, I thought it was fun and an immersive experience.
I’m a big fan of Harry Potter and like many other fans, I’ve always fantasized about what it would be like to go to Hogwarts to learn spells and potions and magic. I’m a fool for nothing Harry Potter themed, and the Harry Potter Coding Kit was no exception. This makes learning the basics of coding attractive and entertaining because there is not much that can be done with a programmable magic wand application.
Kano application could use a little work and there are areas where things could be improved, but in general, it’s a fun way for kids to coding.