The Mars Rover, Curiosity, is scheduled to land on August 5 and Microsoft Research is pretty excited about it. Not only you can watch the event live on the Xbox channel, there's a new Kodu world in which kids can control a rover to explore an authentic version of the Red Planet.
The Kodu Game Lab, developed by Microsoft Research FUSE Labs, is a visual programming language that enables kids to create games. It is a tool that can unleash imagination, foster literacy and numeracy skills and encourage kids to consider programming as a future career.
To coincide with the Curiosity landing, FUSE Labs, in conjunction with NASA’s Mars Public Engagement Program, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has launched Kodu: Mars Edition.
This version of Kodu is designed to enable school kids in the fifth through eighth grades to program a Mars rover, explore the planet, or play one of three professionally developed game levels.
The Martian adventure introduces new objects and new programming elements into the Kodu environment via the game levels and enables students to develop skills similar to those of real NASA rover drivers:
Search and Explore Mars: Stents will determine the most efficient set of commands to navigate a rover across terrain using scientific data.
Under the Rover’s Hood: Students will program how the rover will move and act autonomously, as well as run trials to evaluate and refine their programming.
Mars Mission Simulation: Students will design a simulated Martian environment and program a rover to explore Mars autonomously.
Find out more about this new Kodu world in this video:
And remember to tune in to the Xbox Live at 10:31 p.m. PDT on August 5 to discover if the real Curiosity lands on Mars according to plan. (Requires an Xbox and registration, which is free.)
Google Research is working on a new initiative to introduce kids to computing in ab entirely hands-on, physical way. A prototype has been produced to show how it the tangible programming approach  [ ... ]