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Kano Harry Potter Computer Kit REVIEW

For the past two years, we’ve been trying to convince my stepdaughter that she should learn how to code. We’ve been trying to encourage her to use the tools that are out there that make learning coding easy and fun, but she’s not ‘the computer type’ as she likes to say. Even though she’s been hesitant, I’ve been fascinated by learning about these tools because I myself have never completely understood computer coding. I took an HTML course during my undergraduate program (more than 15 years ago) and loved it, but I’ve always been intimidated by actual ‘coding’. So, when I was introduced to Kano and their super easy to use coding platform, I was stoked. I was even more excited when I discovered the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit; I knew that was for me.

SPECS

  • Coding Wand Board: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Rumble pack, RGB LED, Button
  • Battery: XXX x 2; 6 hours of continuous play
  • Bluetooth Low-energy 4.1+
  • Compatible Systems:
  • MAC: Mac OS 10.10 or later, Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor (64-bit intel processor), Models from 2012 or onwards, Mac OS Mojave now supported
  • iOS: iPad running iOS 11 or higher, iOS 10 support from mid-October
  • Recommended tablets: iPad 5th Generation and later, iPad Mini 2 and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad Pro; running iOS 11 and later

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I loved the books. I loved the movies. And I love the idea of being able to use this manifestation of a movie prop to learn an intimidating task like coding. The kit includes the wand that you assemble, written instructions, and a free download of the app that you can use with a mobile device or a desktop computer. I chose to use my MacBook Pro. Before I put the wand together, I got the app downloaded and set-up. Then I opened up the box to the wand and put the pieces together. The wand consists of the actual plastic wand piece and the ‘brain’ of the wand, which includes a gyroscope, accelerometer, and a magnetometer. Those sensors detect when you move the wand and complete the code prompts.

Kano is nice enough to provide AAA batteries along with the wand pieces so that you can get started as quickly as possible once the wand is assembled. The coding portion of the project is done exclusively through the app. Kano makes this very easy to understand because they take you from the very basic steps like placing visual blocks with commands into a sequence to more advanced coding steps like adding specific angle measurements into the code for wand actions. The Harry Potter Kano Kit allows users to learn the coding process through a series of challenges and then you can hone your skills through the ‘play’ area of the app. You can create your own adventures and share them with the Kano community, too.

I love the flexibility that this system provides for those who are trying to learn how to code. It is a creative option for helping people to learn a skill without making it monotonous. I did find that it takes a while — several challenges — before you really get into the heart of how to code. Since it starts out with sequencing and giving users the ‘feel’ of what coding is all about, you have to realize how that translates to the actual coding later on in the process. I made it through several levels of challenges prior to writing this review and felt that each built on the lesson before it but thought that for more advanced users, it would help to have more explanation of how the basics relate to ‘real’ coding. I know that this particular system is geared toward younger kids, but it would be nice to see an option for more guided lessons for those who want it.

If you are looking to start coding, Kano has some great options for getting started. I really love the Harry Potter wand package and think that it’s the best way to learn the basics because you get to play through the lessons.

For more information, visit kano.me.
Find Kano on Facebook and Twitter.

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Originally published at macsources.com on October 18, 2018.

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