Wonder, the newest app by Wonder Workshop, is simply wonderful. Wonder is used with one or both of Wonder Workshop’s programmable robots. Dash is the company’s larger, mobile, and more complex robot. While Dot is smaller and stationary. Combining both robots means they are able to interact with each other, but you do not need both robots to use the app. The robots “communicate” with the app using Bluetooth.
Wonder is a programming app. Children write lines of code and these lines in turn tell the robot what to do. If your children are familiar with websites/apps like Scratch or Tynker, using Wonder will be especially thrilling. Writing programs to create simple games is fun. However, writing programs that cause objects to move and interact with the real-world is a completely different experience. Children are enthralled by this app!
I would recommend this app for children aged eight and above. There is an extensive set of training missions that children need to complete before writing their own programs. Mission instructions are not read aloud so children must be able to read in order to use this app independently. Each mission is written in a story format so creating the program becomes an adventure. For example, Dash might need to escape the aliens and in order to do that he will need to turn 90 degrees, move forward 40 cm, then turn all of his lights off and hide.
Most beginning programming apps put pieces of code in building blocks that the students must stack. This app takes a different approach. The bits of programming, or behaviors, are dragged and dropped in a free form pattern and are linked with cues. Cues tell the next behavior when to play — automatically when an object is detected in front of the robot, when someone claps, etc. Imagine a dot-to-dot with the behaviors being the dots and the cues as the lines connecting them. The variety of cues and behaviors adds an almost limitless combination of programs. I prefer this format to the block-style as it is more visual. For instance, if you want something to repeat, close a circle and the program continues going around.
The app itself is free. Dash, is sold for $149 while Dot is $49.99. You might think the price for these robots is high, but when you realize that Wonder Workshop has a host of other apps making these robots appropriate for children beginning at age five, you quickly realize the price is well worth it.
Katie Chirhart is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for sixteen years. She has specializations in early childhood and reading. Recently, she finished her Campus Technology Certification. She began her career in College Station, TX teaching a full inclusion pre-kindergarten class. Currently, Katie lives and works in Shreveport, LA. After spending ten years teaching third grade, she now teaches in an elementary iPad Lab. She has earned When time allows, she enjoys working with teachers far and wide sharing the wonders of technology. Her current job is a dream come true.