Google loves programming and it really wants to help the rest of the world appericiate it as well. In fact, we often keep hearing of this program or that event, that driven by the software giant to propagate programming and educate people to all that is possible through it. Well, Project Bloks is the company’s latest attempt to help kids learn the basics of coding.
Project Bloks, which was announced only today, is a brand new hardware platform that is meant to let developers and educators build physical programming experience that will introduce the younglings to coding and help them take their first steps along the path.
The whole system has been built in collaboration with design firm IDEO. Before anything else though, lets take a look at how the things are expected to work. Oh and just a pointer in case you are still in dark about what its all about — the system is expected to help kids learn programmig by manifesting physical changes as they code.
The system is operated using a small Raspberry Pi Zero-based board that powers the rest of the Bloks. Apart from the rather appropriately name “Brain Board”, two other components called the “Pucks” and “Base Board,” together make up the physical part of Project Bloks.
The pucks dont have any active electronic components and will play the role of pathways to the instructions provided by the brain. So basically, anything as simple as a piece of paper with some conductive ink will serve the purpose.
Finally, there is the Base Board which comes equipped with haptic motors and an LED so users can get real-time feedback on the commands provided by the pucks. The Base Board can also be used to play sounds through a speaker attached to a Brain Board.
Although the system is initially aimed at kids, it also makes provision for all sorts of complex coding commands such as branching, which means that the code doesn’t just have to be linear. This is in effect means, that the system could be expanded to teach adult initiates to the art of programming as well.
The potential for its use by kids to learn programming in innovative ways is definitely very vast. Examples include controlling a drawing bot or even a Lego WeDo 2.0 bot. We are sure that researcher and educators — who are invited to participate in research studies later in the year — will be able to come up with a variety of fun new ways to let kids explore coding.
Speaking on the topic, Paulo Blikstein, the Director of the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford University, who assisted Google researchers in developing the system, said,
Imagine what could happen if we had 10 times more people developing ways for children to learn coding and computational thinking: not just the traditional way, but kits that would teach programming in different ways such as making music or controlling the physical world. That is what this platform will enable: make it easy to think outside of the box, without all the technical obstacles.
Meanwhile, the company has launched the project in open source as of now. There is significant potential for its usage in the retail and the toy industry as well, however Google is in favor of taking things more slowly for now.