Learn How to Think with Karel the Robot. Appendix B. Self-Paced Karel Course in NCLab

Appendix B
Self-Paced Karel Course in NCLab

NCLab provides a self-paced gamified Karel course based on this textbook. Students beat levels like in a computer game, and they collect points and certificates. The course is popular with home schooled students, students in schools, and adult learners alike. It is not easy but it is rewarding. The course helps develop logic, computational thinking, problem solving, and perseverance. These skills are needed very much in computer programming but also in many other careers. After finishing the Karel course, the students have a solid foundation of logic and computatonal thinking, and moreover they are used to write programs in a simplified Python language. Therefore, students are ready for a quick and seamless transition to Python programming.

B.1. Age groups and prerequisites

There is no age limit - the course teaches skills which are age-independent, and is popular with students of all ages. The only prerequisite is keyboarding. Therefore we do not recommend it for children under 6 years.

B.2. Brief overview

The Karel language is the perfect language for beginning programmers. It will teach you how to design algorithms and write working computer programs without struggling with technical complications of mainstream programming languages. Also, Karel teaches all important concepts of modern procedural programming languages including correct code formatting, counting loops, if-else conditions, conditional loops, custom commands, functions, variables, lists, and recursion. The course comes with examples and tutorial videos that ensure that every student can progress at his or her own pace.

B.3. What does it take to be an instructor

The course can be taken at home without an instructor. It contains many examples and videos which make it completely self-paced. For schools and institutions: The instructor does not have to be an expert in computer programming. In fact, many educators use the Karel course to learn computational thinking skills themselves, and adult learners in general enjoy the course as much as K-12 students do.

B.4. Role of the instructor

Although the course is self-paced, the instructor (or homeschooling parent) still plays an important role as a coach. The course forces the students to change their problem-solving habits. Without thinking first, they fail to solve the task. This can lead to an initial frustration which is easier to overcome with the guidance and help of an instructor or parent. The students will gradually become independent thinkers and problem solvers, and will require your assistance less and less often.

B.5. Instructor training

NCLab provides instructor training. Contact us at office@nclab.com or (775) 300-7667 for details.

B.6. Course structure

The course has two parts - a self-paced part and creative projects. The self-paced part comprises 5 Units with 5 Sections each. Every Section contains eight game levels and a quiz. This makes for a total of 225 game levels. Students receive a new certificate after finishing each Unit. There is a project for each section (25 projects total). More details about the projects will be given in Section B.9.

B.7. Syllabus, lesson plans, pacing guide

The syllabus, lesson plans, and pacing guide can be downloaded from the Instructor Resources page https://nclab.com/karel-_resources/.

B.8. Student journals, cheat sheets, solution manuals

The resources page https://nclab.com/karel-_resources/ also provides student journals, a cheat sheet with a quick overview of Karel commands, and a solution manual for instructors. An instructor also has access to solutions directly in the game levels.

B.9. Creative projects

The course comes with creative projects which are designed to allow the students to apply what they learned in each Section. There are 25 projects:

  • Make a Maze
  • Draw Your Name
  • Stuff, Stuff, Stuff
  • Fix It!
  • Rules of Fun
  • No Walls
  • Detective
  • Maze Master
  • 12345
  • Fruit loops
  • Def-initely
  • Strange Shapes
  • Hard Fun
  • Counting Up
  • Three Rooms
  • More Rooms
  • True and False
  • Minimal Maze
  • Guide on the Side
  • Uncertain Times
  • Access Denied
  • Maximm Maze
  • Full Circle
  • Real Robots
  • Ball-in-a-maze


Figure B.1: *

Project "Make a Maze".

B.10. Explore NCLab

Great work - congratulations on finishing this textbook! The next step is to explore NCLab at http://nclab.com/.

B.11. Contact us

Our main office is located at 450 Sinclair St, Reno, NV 89501, U.S.A. Whether you are a homeschooling parent looking to teach computer programming to your kids, or an educator in the K-12 or higher-ed systems, we can help you achieve your goals. You will find our team extremely friendly and responsive. We can be reached using the email office@nclab.com or by calling (775) 300-7667. We hope to hear from you!

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Created on September 27, 2018 in Karel.
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