Google wants to teach kids to code with Project Bloks

The new research project aims to combine manual learning with computational thinking

Google has unveiled a new research project that aims to help young children learn about computational thinking through physical coding experiences.

The new open hardware platform Project Bloks is the result of a collaboration between Google, Stanford University's Paulo Blikstein and IDEO. It consists of a "Brain Board", "Base Boards" and "Pucks" that connect together in a variety of ways, creating instructions that can then be sent to other connected devices.

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"At Google, we're passionate about empowering children to create and explore with technology," wrote executive creative director Steve Vranakis and project lead at Google Creative Lab Jayme Goldstein in an official blog post. "We believe that when children learn to code, they're not just learning how to program a computer they're learning a new language for creative expression and are developing computational thinking: a skillset for solving problem of all kinds."

The platform has been designed as a prototype ahead of further research, with work so far based on educational theory around learning through experience, exploration and manipulation. As an open platform, Project Bloks will allow designers, developers and researchers to develop their own methods of helping kids to learn.

"Kids are inherently playful and social," Vranakis and Goldstein continued. "They naturally play and learn by using their hands, building stuff and doing things together. Making code physical known as tangible programming offers a unique way to combine the way children innately play and learn with computational thinking."

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Although Project Bloks is not yet commercially available but educators, developers, parents and researchers are being invited to take part in the research study.

Image courtesy of Google.

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