If coding really is the new literacy, you’re going to want to start your kid early.
The learn-to-code movement is aiming younger.
MIT, for example, recently released a free iPad app with its visual programming language ScratchJr., so kindergartners could use it to code stories and games even before knowing how to read. Vikas Gupta, a former Google executive who founded the startup Wonder Workshop (formerly called Play-i), has taken a slightly different path. “We learned that in order to make programming of interest to young children, it has to be a tangible product. It can’t be just software,” he told Co.Exist last year.
Enter Dot and Dash—Wonder Workshop’s two new robots that teach coding skills to children as young as five that are now being field tested in a few dozen elementary school classrooms nationally. And they are definitely tangible: Dash hears and responds to sounds, navigates around a room and avoid obstacles, and comes to life with sound and lights. He can even play the xylophone. Dot, on the other hand, doesn’t have wheels and is meant to interact with Dash via Bluetooth and act as a controller. Both have their own customizable “personalities.” On the back end, through four apps that control both robots, they are secretly teaching coding skills such as “event-based programming, sequencing, conditionals, and loops.”
But what’s it like to use these toys if you’re a kid? Will young children actually be as excited to program as adults want them to be? After all, at $349 for the full package and $199 for Dash alone, they are a lot more expensive than a free iPad app.
Take me to the story: How A 6-Year-Old Learned Coding Skills With These Adorable Robot Toys
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