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Could these building blocks help encourage children to code?

Google is working on Project Bloks, a way to teach kids how to code without overwhelming them.

Image: Project Bloks/Google

LEARNING HOW TO code usually involves sitting in front of a PC, learning different commands and hoping you didn’t make any mistakes along the way.

Yet Google believes it has a solution in Project Bloks, a way to turn programming into a hands-on experience for kids.

Essentially a number of electrical blocks that you can snap together to create a program, it was inspired by other similar products developed over the last two decades like Algoblocks, Tern and Topobo.

Using a method called tangible programming – a method that makes code physical so it’s easier to understand – the project is aimed at helping kids develop a basic understanding of computing. By using the skills learnt from Bloks, kids will be able to use them to learn programming languages.

Google bloks 1 Source: Project Bloks/Google

The system is made up of three types of blocks: pucks, base boards and brain boards. Pucks can be programmed with different instructions like ‘play music’, ‘activate sensors’ or ‘turn on/off’, base boards read pucks’ instructions and carry them out while the brain board – which is built on a Raspberry Pi Zero – provides power and connectivity.

While there are many other similar products out there, Google’s plan is to create a platform for third-parties to create their own toys. It provides the code and technology for it while other companies build products and toys on top of it.

In the team’s research paper, they said the project would “hopefully make it easier to introduce children to sophisticated concepts in programming, within a variety of domains and contexts, such as music, arts and other elements of everyday life”.

The project is still in the ‘active research’ stages meaning it’s a long way from seeing an official release, but the team will be opening it up to developers and other groups later this year to help with research.

Source: Google/YouTube

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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