Google teaches kids to code with Project Bloks

(Image Credit: Google)

Google has launched a new open hardware platform called Project Bloks for developers, researchers, and designers to build physical coding-based experiences for teaching kids how to program.

The project highlights that kids play and learn using their hands; which makes an open hardware platform to learn an increasingly essential skill like coding a perfect medium in which to do so. On the project's website, Google claims it wants "to enable kids to develop computational thinking from a young age through coding experiences that are playful, tactile, and collaborative." 

A reference kit has been created by design firm IDEO to show how Project Bloks hardware can be created. The goal, however, is to provide a platform that others can use to build their own devices. At the moment, Google's team for Project Bloks says it won't be releasing its own retail units. 

Some of the hardware which Google examples as can be released through Project Bloks includes; 

  • Sensor Lab - This kit would allow you to experiment with sensors and map an input to an output, like switching on a light if the temperature dropped. 

  • Music Maker - With the Music Maker you could compose a track using computational thinking by inputting different instruments, layering and looping sounds, and then playing it through a wireless speaker. 

  • Coding Kit - With this kit you could put physical code together to send instructions to toys around you — like controlling a robot to create some art. 

At the base of Project Bloks is a Raspberry Pi Zero-based "Brain Board" which functions as the CPU to provide the power for the whole system. This central board interacts with "Pucks" which represent the physical programming language of Project Bloks. 

Each of the Pucks do not have any active electronic components and could have interactive elements such as a dial, or even be just a piece of paper with some conductive ink. The individual pucks represent the basic commands such as "turn on/off", "move left", "play sound," etc. 

Project Bloks was brought to life by team lead Jayme Goldstein and tech lead Joao Wilbert in collaboration with the Google Research and Education teams, IDEO, and Paulo Blikstein, the Director of the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford University. 

Google is looking for educators, researchers, developers and parents who would like to participate in its research studies later this year

Do you think Project Bloks will help kids learn to code? Let us know in the comments.

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P.K. Maric
23 Sep 2016, 11:32 a.m.

This is a great idea. More people should learn to code. At least they should know the basics, because it provides an insight into how software works. Not everyone will become a developer, and that's fine, but some might. Getting into this problem solving and critical thinking mindset early is fantastic. It will help anyone who becomes a developer later on, as whiteboard tests they'll inevitably face during job interviews test exactly these skills. Even online coding tests (for example: if they're well constructed, can do this.