One day after 8-year-old Samaira Mehta finished playing board games with her parents — Monopoly, Life, Scrabble and Taboo — she went to the computer to practice coding, an essential part of computer science. While doing so, Mehta reflected on how she could mix together two things she loves — board games and coding — and throw her favorite animal, the bunny, into the mix. During the summer, Mehta began formulating Coder Bunnyz, a board game intended to teach young children about coding concepts. Bunnies grace the game tokens.
“Every parents’ dream nowadays is to decrease kids’ digital times or have their children spend less time in front of an iPad, less time in front of a computer,” says Mehta, a second grade student at Millikin Basics+ Elementary School. “The whole family can play my board game. I spent all summer working on it, and I’m [finishing it up] right now. My goal is to sell my game to young kids who don’t know about coding. Coding is important because it helps you solve problems.”
At each turn of Coder Bunnyz in the basic level, a player draws a card from one of their stacks and directs their tokens based on the card’s instructions. Each token is moving toward one of four destinations — a park, school, carnival or zoo. Tokens can move forward, turn left, turn right and jump.
“When you move forward, turn left or go in any direction and make a code, that’s called sequencing, one of the concepts in this game,” says Mehta. “If you run into a fence, you can go around it. That’s an example of a conditional, another coding concept. A conditional means, ‘if this happens, then do that.’ You have to think of other ways to reach the destination.”
Although Mehta hasn’t used codes to create a program or an app yet, she is proud that she can compose codes used in computer engineering. She says that one of the first Web sites she has ever interacted with is code.org, a Web site that offers coding training. Mehta’s father, Rakesh, is a hardware engineer who has also guided her in her code writing development. Her mother, Monica, has been helping her communicate with graphic designers who are overseeing the board game’s visual appeal.
Someday, Mehta would like to be an engineer or scientist. In the meanwhile, she enjoys swimming, ice skating, singing and writing her own songs.
“I’m done with the song I was working on for my game,” she says.
Visit http://www.coderbunnyz.com for more information.