What age is MakeCode Arcade suitable for

I’m a teacher looking for a platform for beginner programming for 14 to 15 year olds. I am thinking about using MC Arcade, but when I tried some of the tutorials, they seem almost babyish. Would my students be too old for this platform?

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Hey,

I’m one of the developers on the MakeCode team. We aim at Arcade having a relatively low bar with a high ceiling – most (if not all) of the tutorials on the homepage are intended to be able to serve as an entry point for new users of all ages, so they tend to be very explicit and and thorough for that.

For some more ‘aged up’ experiences, there are a few places I’d suggest you to start looking:

  • Every once in a while we’ll host ‘gamejams’ where users will create games around a given theme with a time constraint (e.g. one to two weeks). Here are a few of our previous ones for reference: https://arcade.makecode.com/gamejam/all - there were a good number of entries across the board
  • Here on the forum – we get a lot posts so it’s hard to think of which to bring up right away, but here are a few things that come to mind right away
    • The user created 3d raycasting extension Raycasting 3D render -- Blocks Edition which has been in vogue lately – anyone can make their own extension which adds blocks to the toolbox to expand options available to users, which can be a nice way to have students work together (e.g. have one student with prior coding experience create an extension that adds a feature that the other students in the group can use in their game)
    • another user made a gallery which shows forum games in an easier to pick out fashion, so I’d suggest perusing the ‘most liked’ games from the forums: https://games-gallery.jacobcarpenter.com/all-time
  • We run twitch streams with some combination of me and the other devs on the stream (most) monday/wednesday/fridays over on https://twitch.tv/msmakecode . They also get mirrored over to https://www.youtube.com/c/MicrosoftMakeCode . They typically don’t get that polished as we try to stop ourselves from dragging on a single game too long as it can get hard for users to follow along, so they tend to be more concept or mechanic based, but there are good examples in there (and the entire games we end up with only really get worked on much in those ~1-3 hour groups typically). For one that I particularly liked, we hacked together loop hero - esque game in a few streams back around when that came out: Arcade Advanced Stream #307 - Loop Dungeon Pt. 3 - I’ll note we tend to make these games off the cuff so we don’t always come up with the ‘best’ way to do things, but I think that’s probably a benefit as an example for there being a somewhat high ceiling :).

I’ll tag in @KIKIvsIT for links to appropriately aged tutorials / skillmaps for this case :slight_smile:. Probably worth a note here that if you don’t find the exact user generated tutorials similar to how we support user generated extensions (https://makecode.com/writing-docs/tutorials), but that would end up requiring significantly more work on your end so it’s not ideal.

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Great answer, @jwunderl

@joshp We have just introduced a new high school arcade curriculum that you can find on our curriculum page. The first half relies on block-based coding, and the second half transitions to text. It’s the second card on this page:

Our CSP curriculum is also great as a survey of CS topics in general, and it does a light dive into Arcade. You can find this by clicking on the first card in the “Courses” page.

Hope that helps!

Also, let me know if you’re interested in exploring how to make your own tutorials and I can help get you started.

~Kiki

I’m not to old for this platform!!
When I started coding there wasn’t a lot of tutorials for makecode it was Galica. I learned a lot form watching the live streams VODs when it started up on mixer. When more tutorials were introduced it felt really childish and slow, but that was probably because I knew the basics that the tutorials were teaching.

I wish there were more video tutorials for a more advanced audience.

As a 15 year old student myself, I started using MakeCode around 13. At that time, I had already had experience in some high-level languages and drastically outpaced the rest of my class. I think it’s really dependent on the groups you are teaching, if you are teaching a class like AP CSP with a class made up of 95% kids who haven’t used anything more advanced than scratch with no real desire to learn computer science, it would be a great fit(That sums up my class last year). If you are working with kids that are already experienced and want to learn quickly, it’ll be more of a stretch and you’d have to use javascript nearly from the start. You also can’t make much use of object-oriented programming with makecode, if that’s a topic you need to cover. When I used makecode for a class back in 8th grade, the application began to fall apart for lesson structure. The main way to teach kids is through long-ish projects with variable completion times. It can be difficult to teach concepts, as oftentimes all you can do is show it off and then give them a deadline. It’s also pretty difficult to port code and graphics between programs. Don’t kill me MakeCode but I’ve used better platforms for Computer Science classes. In summary, the age should fit if you use it right, but the platform itself could be a struggle for you and your students.

I’m not too old for MakeCode (a little bit older than you specified @joshp), and I think MakeCode has great potential for education, as it is like a “choose your own difficulty” scenario.

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