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Think your kids are too young to learn to code? Think again.
Coding (also called programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, phone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the ‘new literacy’—a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world.
And trust Google to go out there and make coding fun for kids! In the past, we’ve told you about Kiddle, the child friendly search engine from Google, and also Google’s Chrome Music Lab, both designed to give kids friendly experiences on the net.
This time around, Google has introduced Project Bloks, to make coding for kids colourful, fun, and lets them interact with the real world. Google's intention is for Bloks to teach the logic behind coding, so that kids can pick up basic skills as they play and later transfer that knowledge to real-world applications.
The basic idea behind the project is to make programming “tangible” for kids, i.e. something they can physically do, through the processes that kids generally do at that age like playing, exploring, creating, etc. It’s a physical manifestation of the process that is usually done in front of a computer, and that’s what makes it appealing. This is based on a long-held theory that kids naturally play and learn better by using their hands and by playing with each other.
The team behind Project Bloks :
Google says that this project is still in development, as a collaboration between Research at Google, Google Creative Lab, the design firm Ideo, and researchers from Stanford and Chiang Mai University.
The components of Project Bloks :
Project Bloks is made out of three basic components:
1) The Brain Board - It houses the main processing unit and provides power and connectivity to the whole system. It can communicate with any device that has an API through WiFi and Bluetooth.
2) The Base Boards – These are modular pieces that can be connected via the Brain Board to create grids or different programming flows. Each Base Board has a capacitive sensor, which it uses to receive instructions from the Pucks.
3) The Pucks – These are really the heart and soul of Project Bloks. They're basically code instructions in physical form. Some examples of Pucks include dials, switches, arrows and buttons, which can then be programmed with instructions like "turn on and off" or "go up."
All these come together in The Coding Kit, which is a reference design for Project Bloks. It has a Brain Board and a bunch of different Base Boards and Pucks that kids can put together to control anything from a tablet to a robot.
This project is very exciting to me as a parent, even though the product is currently not for sale, because it really reiterates the importance of coding and why kids need to learn it in the technologically driven 21st century.
Let’s hope that Google makes coding toys cheaper and develops Blocks into a powerful toy that developers can use to create customizable learning tools.