Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit full review
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to learning how to code. Java, SQL, Python… it’s all quite overwhelming when you’re starting from scratch. Not to mention memorising all those numbers can be a bit of a drag.
However, all those worries can be erased with the Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit. Kano have already established a great niche market in turning teaching coding into a fun activity for all the geeks out there with their Harry Potter wand-building kit, and they’re onto another corker with this new toy that allows kids of all ages to connect to the force to build and experiment with lines of code.
If you’d like to know what other toys are out there for the science whizzes (or big kids such as myself) then check out our roundup of the best coding and STEM toys.
Price and availability
You can join the Rebellion (or Empire, whatever floats your lightsaber) by picking up The Force Coding Kit for £79.99/$79.99 from either Amazon UK/Amazon US or heading over to the Kano UK site/Kano US site. The company also does products for fans of Frozen, Harry Potter and more general gadgets like the Pixel Kit.
Though this may seem like quite an investment for a coding toy, the sheer number of modes and levels you get with this kit - and the learning potential - make it quite worth the money.
Is the Force with Kano?
The Force Coding Kit comes equipped with a basic instructions, free Star Wars stickers, all the build parts you need and a free app to access all your coding programmes and games. You can only use this app on tablet or PC - phones will not work.
Building the motion sensor - which contains a printed circuit board (PCB) - is extremely straightforward. The instructions are extremely clear, and each part is laid out easily to pick up. Once it’s turned on, you can connect it to your PC/tablet via Bluetooth. There was a little niggle when testing that our PC couldn’t detect the kit after previously using it, so we had to reset it for it to be detected. It was quite an easy fix, but just something to keep in mind.
There are three modes to choose from in The Force Coding Kit, depending on what you’d like to explore. The best place to start would be the Challenges tab, which walks you through the basics of coding step-by-step whilst advancing your online Jedi skills. For example, the first story-based challenge is building your own lightsaber and learning how to control it via the motion sensor, which turns your movements into binary code.
The tutorial will guide you through dragging and dropping boxes into the space, connecting them up and changing the fields to be able to control your object with your motion sensor. The layout is simple and colour-coded, so you can track what you’re doing quite nicely.
Once you’ve passed these you can go onto the Explore tab to see what other Kano users have created and test them out - once again all Star Wars related. From making BB-8 roll across the screen to making a TIE fighter fly, there’s plenty of weird and wacky games to try out with your motion sensor.
If you’re up for something a little more advanced, you can check out the Create tab, which allows you to build your own simulation from scratch, using all the coding tools available. Here you can choose a background, add in action triggers, move things around the screen using mathematics and much more. It’s basically like a sandbox, and you can go nuts.
As for the motion sensor itself, we found the tracker to not always work as directed. It didn’t always pick up when your hand would move across it, and when it did, sometimes the object would move another way to what was expected. It just made the whole execution element of the coding experience a little more tricky.
All in all, when it comes to teaching coding in a fun and unique way - this product delivers. There’s so many challenges and interactive elements to keep you busy, and the addition of a sandbox level really allows users to experiment and learn as they go. It’s just a shame that the motion sensor doesn’t always work as expected.
However it has to be said, the graphics themselves are pretty darn cute. Especially the porgs (yes, I'm one of THOSE fans).
Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit: Specs
- Requires a compatible Windows 10 PC, Mac, iPad, or Kindle Fire 10HD with Bluetooth LE