All of us have been kids and from our personal experiences, we know the toy and ploy they like to engage with. They always like to learn things by engaging themselves manually. They like to build things, group together things and disengage. But what about giving them a lesson on programming in a playful way? Well, this is what has been conceptualized with the latest wave of the kids-friendly tangible programming which made coding literally physical, largely to the benefits of the kids.
If your goal is to develop the computational thinking and problem-solving skills of your kids from the early age, such lovely coding experience can help a lot in turning the young minds towards geeky side of things. Google Project Blocks has been created as an open platform for teaching the kids basics of coding in an innovative way. After putting academic research the project finally seems to have full of promises for building the cognitive and conceptual ability of young learners.
A Bit of History of Project Blocks
Project Bloks is basically a collaborative venture between Google’s Creative Lab and academic researcher and scientist Paulo Blikstein who is serving as the director of the transformative learning technologies lab at the Stanford University. The core concept of the Google Blocks had been based upon the computing concept referred as tangible programming. It is basically conceptualized on the basis of the theory that kids learn better and quicker by manual engagement with their hands.
Apart from few earlier ventures producing coding toys for children, tangible programming has largely remained under the shadow and could not make a wider appeal. Now that Google stepped into this area of huge untapped potential, it can transform the way we try to develop analytical and problem-solving ability of kids.
What the System is Made of
Project Bloks is a system that is made of 3 basic components, respectively as the Brain Board, Base Boards, and Pucks. While the Brain Board serves as brains of the entire process by housing the main processing unit and by providing power and connectivity to the rest of the system, the Base Boards, on the other hand, are the modular boards that have to be connected with the Brain Board for building grids of programming to allow information flow. Brain Boards are capable of communicating through WiFi or Bluetooth with other devices having run with an API. The Base Boards receive instructions from the connected pucks through the capacitive sensors below the base.
Finally, the Pucks are the components that basically drive the boards with coded instructions. Pucks can of various types as per their specific roles. Pucks include small grid-like systems with coded instructions ranging from dials, switches, arrows, and buttons. They are not active electronic components in nature and so are less expensive compared to the boards. From quality plastics to a wooden block to a piece of paper with conductive ink, all can serve as Pucks. The main point is they need to carry with them a capacitive ID that the system sensors can identify. The entire system works with a Brain Board at the head followed by one or several Base Boards connected with a range of Pucks.
Physical Coding Experience for Kids
Project Blocks is aimed to offer kids physical coding experience as they love to learn things in a playful and socially engaging way. This semi computing system with less complex network showing how information flows would readily offer them a handy way to learn computing and programming and in effect, they can develop analytical and computing skills of the kids.
Obviously, leveraging the benefits of tangible programming for the education of kids is challenging as it involves huge infrastructural input to develop both hardware and software. But the objective of Project Blocks is to alleviate these obstacles by facilitating an open platform.
Rajiv is one of the founders of Nimblechapps, a web and android game development company based out of India. At Nimblechapps he overlooks delivery, product development and often lends a hand to the in house development team. His personal interest include Travel, Food and Motorcycling.