During my generation as a young child in school, I remember the moment we got those colorful iMac desktop computers. I remember playing games on them, learning and typing documents. Bringing computers into the classroom, or computer room for that matter, made my school day that much more interesting. Today, during the technological revolution we are all witnessing and experiencing, kids in school are getting used to computer-science education as part of their curriculum at a national level. Internationally even, children are using Chromebooks and other cost-effective computers and laptops to learn simple code and programming. Apple has come a long way since its orb-like desktop that I remember so dearly. These days, the company has been promoting an iPad app called Swift Playgrounds, which educates littles on the basics of Swift, a programming language based especially for Apple, said to be more resilient to erroneous code than Objective-C, and more concise, as put by Wikipedia.
But we’re not even focusing on Apple today, despite my bringing it up. Today is all about Google’s Project Bloks, an open hardware platform announced this week that allows developers, designers and educators to get basic coding fundamentals into the hands of young ones. The initiative involves actual toy blocks that kids can connect together to control other toys. The ‘Bloks’ contain their own icons, which are used to direct a robot, just as an example. Then, according Popular Mechanics, each setup will also have a Brain Board for compiling all the input from various blocks and their Base Boards, which may communicate to what the system is trying to control. Rather than getting into a coding program and typing away for hours, Project Bloks is on the most basic level. It’s a simple, tangible way to express the logic behind coding, that way kids are more apt at picking up the basic skills whilst playing and having fun.
Best part is the learning part, which will help these students transfer into useful skills later in life. When it’s time for them to actually tap into computer programming, say in high school or college, as it’s become a regular curriculum requirement and/or elective, these real-world applications will be thanks to coding programs like Google’s. However, this doesn’t mean Google is getting into toy-making biz all of a sudden. The company will be leaving the toy-building to partners. For example, in creating Project Bloks, Google partnered up with multiple entities to give this project its wings. Goldstein and Wilbert of Google’s Creative Lab consolidated their genius with Google Research, IDEO, and Paulo Blikstein of the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford.
The average learning requirement in age is 5 years and up, yet pretty much any person can get the notion of coding into their brains when using something tangible, such as blocks. The innovative Project Bloks isn’t mainstream yet, but rather being tested in a small group of schools. Google’s hopes, of course, is that the open-hardware program catches on, and the demand increases across the nation. It will most likely happen, as the trend of computing toys continues to increase, and anything Google comes up with has nearly no difficulty getting off the ground
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