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Programming Education Sci-Fi United Kingdom Games

Doctor Who To Teach Kids To Code 164

DCFC writes: The BBC is releasing a game to help 8- to 11-year-old kids get into coding. Based on Doctor Who, it alternates between a standard platform game and programming puzzles that introduce the ideas of sequence, loops, if..then, variables and a touch of event-driven programming. Kids will get to program a Dalek to make him more powerful. (Apparently the BBC thinks upgrading psychopathic, racist death machines is a good idea!)
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Doctor Who To Teach Kids To Code

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  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @02:26AM (#48192947) Homepage

    Apparently the BBC thinks upgrading psychopathic, racist death machines is a good idea!

    Doesn't everybody?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      In the USA we call them "drones"

      • And hey, the US drones don't have a problem with stairs. They just level the building.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by weszz ( 710261 )

        Daleks aren't machines though... Those are the cybermen.

        A Dalek is a living being inside the armor.

        not sure which would be better to meet, but I would pick the Dalek if I had the choice. Cybermen either upgrade you to a cyberman, or they delete you. There isn't middle ground, while ad Dalek doesn't ALWAYS destroy and kill, they will use people as leverage too.

        • Daleks aren't machines though... Those are the cybermen.
          A Dalek is a living being inside the armor.

          The cybermen aren't that different—despite the suppressed emotions, they're not purely mechanical. They have living brains inside their mechanical bodies. The difference is that the cybermen are set on "upgrading" people; they think of it as a service. They consider themselves advanced life-forms and want others to have the same experience. Failure to comprehend the benefits of what they're offering is taken as further evidence that you're in need of an "upgrade". They're constantly looking for ways t

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by KinkyClown ( 574788 )
      I for one welcome our new overlords...
    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )

      10 wave magic screwdriver at it
      20 RUN!

      freakin' /. has devolved so far with it's html tag handling that I had to resort to MS-basic to get this to post.

  • Kids will get to program a Dalek to make him more powerful.

    "Look, my Dalek is now so powerful it writes my code for me!"

    Wait, how do you know a Dalek is a "him"?

  • Hopefully that will be in time. Here we have to teach 3rd year science students who struggle with for loops and who cannot come to grasp with allocatable arrays. It is despairing.
    • Re:In time (Score:4, Interesting)

      by idji ( 984038 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:59AM (#48193229)
      Make them watch the 1982 Doctor Who story Castrovalva to learn about loops http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
  • Apparently the BBC thinks upgrading psychopathic, racist death machines is a good idea!

    The US government have been doing that around the world for decades, so surely it must be a good idea.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why teach kids to be unemployed? Why delude them, giving them illusions about coding being the key to a successful future? We're not in the '80s anymore. Back then, everybody thought computers were the key to a great career or, rather, that was the trend. By the early '90s with the Web exploding, everybody was pretty certain of that. And what now? IT workers are low-wage blue-collar workers with no vacations, no off hours, no overtime compensation and their jobs are being or have already been outsourced. Co

    • by hodet ( 620484 )

      Hopefully they will use those skills in other vocations. You don't have to be a full time coder humping a cublicle to benefit from programming skills.

      • Yes, you can also be:
        - a full time MBA humping a cube
        - a full time HR drone humping a cubicle
        - a full time financial analyst humping a cubicle
        - a full time scientist being humped by a cubicle
        - a full time engineer being humped by a soldering iron

        All paths to which coding is the solution involves being on the wrong end of a bizarre sexual act.

    • IT workers are low-wage blue-collar workers with no vacations, no off hours, no overtime compensation and their jobs are being or have already been outsourced.

      In the UK we get a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation, a set time for working hours, and even salaried workers are due compensation for working over their contractual hours.

      Been in IT in the UK for 20 years now, never experienced what you are talking about.

      Yup, we actually have decent employment law here in the UK. Sucks to be you, wherever you come from...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At the moment it appears that this is only accessible in the UK. Are there any plans for it to be released elsewhere (without having to circumvent location blocking)?

    • At the moment it appears that this is only accessible in the UK. Are there any plans for it to be released elsewhere (without having to circumvent location blocking)?

      British Broadcasting Commission.
      And yes, they block all non-UK IP addresses from accessing the BBC websites. Anyone in the UK who watches live TV must pay a TV license, which all goes to the BBC. So in effect, only we (the UK) pay for the service, and, are given access to it.

      You'll either have to wait for BBC worldwide to take it on, or, get yourself a VPN in the UK.

  • by El Puerco Loco ( 31491 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:12AM (#48193109)

    they aren't trying to teach kids screenwriting.

  • Britain only (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:54AM (#48193205)

    Sorry, CBBC games and videos can only be played if you're in the UK.

    Commonwealth citizenship apparently grants no privileges.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Interestingly apparently the BBC can't give it away particularly in the EU for instance though I suspect the same issue is world wide too. Basically the BBC is part state funded and dumping free stuff into other markets regarded as anti competitive though the world service ...

    • by Tomsk70 ( 984457 )

      Hey, I got that response when trying to install an older Doctor Who game from the site last night.

      From the UK. On a UK ISP. And no, I wasn't running VPN....

    • Commonwealth != British. You gave those rights up when you split from the British Empire :)

    • Sorry, CBBC games and videos can only be played if you're in the UK.

      Commonwealth citizenship apparently grants no privileges.

      Do Commonwealth citizens pay the BBC license fee?

  • by idji ( 984038 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:55AM (#48193209)
    The 5th Doctor story Castrovalva was based on "recursive occlusion" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org] and taught me the basics to loops and recursion.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was originally conceived to get kids into history. That's why he's a time traveller.

    Now the flavour du jour is programming. I can't help but feel we've lowered our sights.

  • Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror [wikipedia.org]

    ... The game's play centers on the player's character of the Doctor (specifically his sixth incarnation), and his robotic programmable cat Splinx. ...

  • Code.org (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @06:18AM (#48193701)
    The code.org site is a great resource for teaching kids to program. Personally I'd have liked to see the BBC contribute their project to that where it would likely enjoy a lot more popularity.
  • Use Dr Who to teach science ... yeahhhh... what could go wrong?

  • Like many BBC products, this game appears only to be accessible within the UK. I'm in the US, and i'd happy buy a copy / access - this game would be a huge hit with my family! When I tried to go there, they directed me to the BBC Store site, which only sells physical goods. Come on, BBC!

  • I feel bad for the parents. My wife and I are young, and we already can't stand the Daleks. Imagine those parents out there, who have likely been putting up with "EXTERMINATE" for more years than we have, and now it's not only those surprise Dalek episodes to contend with, but also kids running around thinking that Daleks are so cool and "Look mum! I programmed it to talk!"

  • by SABME ( 524360 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @08:41AM (#48194367)
    I will definitely get this for my kids, especially since we are Dr. Who fans. I have great memories of playing Robot Odyssey, which had logic gates that you could "solder" together. Later on, I played RoboSport by Maxis, which wasn't as sophisticated but was still fun. Any others that people out there remember?
    • by SABME ( 524360 )
      OK, I *would* definitely get this for my kids, except that I'm in the US and can't get it. Ah well ...
    • I've wanted a modern version of Omega for quite while now.
  • Just as we had a little hope of losing some of that "geeky" image that goes with coding... Dr. WHO starts teaching to code.
    Sigh.

    Will this appeal to, e.g., girls?

    • Doctor Who actually has equal numbers of male and female viewers, or at least it did the last time I checked.
  • Tom Baker was hawking Prime Computers. Must have picked up Fortran back then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • Screw you, BBC. My little girl is in tears you idiots. I live in NYC and I am the proud Dad of a 7 year old Dr. Who fanatic. As soon as I saw this I told my little girl and we were both so excited to play this game. Then, we got the stupid "you must be in the UK" message.

    Really BBC? I am so disappointed. There are hard core Dr. Who fans who live outside the UK.
    Don't do this to your fans!

    • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

      Now she gets to learn about networks and VPNs

    • Screw you, BBC. My little girl is in tears you idiots. I live in NYC and I am the proud Dad of a 7 year old Dr. Who fanatic. As soon as I saw this I told my little girl and we were both so excited to play this game. Then, we got the stupid "you must be in the UK" message.

      Really BBC? I am so disappointed. There are hard core Dr. Who fans who live outside the UK.
      Don't do this to your fans!

      The simple solution is to move your family here to the UK.

      • Thank you! You are very nice, just like most
        Brits that I know.

        I would love to move there. I have spent time in the UK with friends
        and also work. I love London and I love Scotland.

        You guys have a beautiful country.

        Cheers!

  • That should be "The Doctor to teach kids to code".

    The programme is "Doctor Who", the lead character is "The Doctor".

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      The show is called Doctor Who. This game is an extension of the show. You are being correctly pedantic about the name of The Doctor, but you're overcorrecting. Let's replace "code" with "count", and "Doctor Who" with "Sesame Street": "Sesame Street teaches kids to count". Would you complain because there isn't a character on the show (or associated computer game) named "Sesame Street" teaching kids to count? No, because that would be dumb.

      • As is Doctor Who teaching children how to code...since the show is the farthest thing from science fiction, more like fantasy, so maybe teaching kids about alchemy...
        • Out of curiosity, other than trappings (laser rifle versus wand of lightning, say,) how would you differentiate 'Science Fiction' from 'Fantasy Fiction?'
  • Apparently the BBC thinks upgrading psychopathic, racist death machines is a good idea!

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • by levork ( 160540 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:44AM (#48196045) Homepage

    10 EXTERMINATE
    20 GOTO 10

  • Sounds like the typical online gamer profile to me. Wanna gods, warriors, psychopathic killers etc.

    (of course I am joking..... sort of....)

  • No doubt this will be some sandboxed, fluffy, guided deal, completely missing many of the genuine problem solving skills which lead to a true understanding of what it is to code to create solutions.

    Remember kids, #00FF00 is not a creative color.

    • It's an attempt to get kids interested in programming, not provide an online PhD in Computer Science.

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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