Recently, a lot of interest has been geared towards computer science. So much so that it has even become a part of the UK’s National Curriculum. However, programming shouldn’t spark thoughts of sitting behind a screen of text. There’s much more to it than that…
Introducing “Project Bloks” a new learning initiative launched by Google. The objective is to give kids the stepping-stone they need to get to grips with coding basics that could possibly apply to their chosen career paths.
“You don’t learn computational thinking just to become a computer-science engineer. You use it to enrich everything else you’re interested in.” – Jayme Goldstein, team leader at Google’s Creative Lab.
This isn’t Google’s first attempt at getting kids more involved with coding and technology. Blockly, a coding library, uses drag and drop functionality to simplify programming language.
Visual based learning tools such as Blockly and Project Bloks enable coding instructions to be easily adapted and manoeuvred in the format of a puzzle or game. It’s much easier for younger learners to grasp as text-based language alone may feel like diving head first into the complicated realm of logic and syntax. By offering a template for tangible learning resources, Google aims to tap into childhood curiosity and encourage kids to think through play.
But, this statement isn’t intended to undermine text based programming but to suggest visual study as a preliminary learning curve. Like in a video game, the more you level up, the bigger and scarier the obstacles you face become.
Project Blok’s configuration:
Essentially Lego for coding, there are two types of “bloks” the pucks and the baseboards. The pucks are the physical embodiment of coding commands. They can take a multitude of customisable forms from flat icon arrows to on/off switches.
Pucks are placed onto the baseboards to process the input. Baseboards can be linked together to create unique programming flows. They are then linked to the brain board to send instructions to connected devices.
The brain board houses the main processing unit that propels power throughout the system.
Whilst the general concept of Project Blok isn’t unheard of existing examples carry a hefty price tag. What sets Google’s plans apart from the crowd is that each prototype design can be adapted by anyone looking to do so. Meaning that, for example, controlling robots and creating music speakers or sensor boards are just a handful of possible ideas that could be brought to life through Project Bloks.
As of yet the “coding kit” hardware isn’t commercially available. It will instead begin life through trail runs within select schools.
If the visions dreamed up of cheap coding resources are perfected then what has been started by Project Bloks is likely to push learning far beyond the textbook. Inspiring the next generation of coders.