Kodu, the visual programming language that Microsoft Research has released specifically for children who want to create games, has just got updated in conjunction with the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars.
The new Kodu: Mars Edition provides kids with the possibility to easily explore the Red Planet, while also enabling them to have a look under the rover’s hood and to simulate Martian environments.
Kodu: Mars Edition, was released as the result of a collaboration between NASA’s Mars Public Engagement Program, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs.
This collaboration is expected to provide students with a compelling learning experience, while developing their competency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), along with 21st-century skills.
The Curiosity rover has already landed on Mars a few hours ago. The Kodu: Mars Edition, which is available for download today, was made official as part of a Curiosity Landing educator conference in Pasadena, Calif., on Aug. 3 at JPL.
The release is destined for all school kids in the fifth through eighth grades to either program the rover, to explore the Red Planet, or to play one of the three professionally developed game levels that the software comes with.
The main skills that students can develop through this programming language include:
Search and Explore Mars: Students will determine the most efficient set of commands to navigate a rover across terrain using scientific data.
Under the Rover’s Hood: Students will program how the rover will move and act autonomously, as well as run trials to evaluate and refine their programming.
Mars Mission Simulation: Students will design a simulated Martian environment and program a rover to explore Mars autonomously.
This Martian adventure brings along a new set of objects into the Kodu environment, as well as a series of new programming elements, Microsoft Research notes. They also note that this simple, visual programming language can support development of games for both the PC and Xbox.
“We were able to combine everything that makes Kodu great—implement new characters and objects, create new actions for the rover, and build three fantastic, fun levels,” Scott Fintel, a technical producer for Microsoft, says
“With the cooperation of educational experts both actively teaching and working with NASA, we created something that teachers can use in the classroom and effectively help kids learn about Mars, rovers, geology, and computer programming—critical skills necessary for continued exploration of our solar system and other important STEM careers.”
Kodu: Mars Edition can be downloaded from Softpedia via this link