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Google Launches 'Project Bloks' Toys To Teach Kids To Code ( 54

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a hardware project dubbed 'Project Bloks' to help teach kids how to code. There are three components to the learning experience: Brain Board, Base Boards, and Pucks. The Brain Board features a processing unit that is based off of Raspberry Pi Zero, which controls and provides power to the rest of the connected components. It does also interact with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. The Base Boards are connective units that let users design instruction flows. Finally, the Pucks are the components you interact with. They're shaped with switches, arrows, buttons, dials and more, and can be programmed to turn things on or off, move avatars, play music, and more. What's neat is you can record instructions from multiple pucks into a single one. Some of them can be made with simple, inexpensive materials like paper with conductive ink. You can watch the official introduction video on YouTube. Google did release a subsequent video about the project called "Developing on Project Bloks."
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Google Launches 'Project Bloks' Toys To Teach Kids To Code

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  • Judging by the name, it certainly looks like children were involved in the design process. Aside from my snarky remark, I'm not really impressed. If you've ever worked with those old 1000-in-1 electronic kits, you've done pretty much what they show here, hell, probably much more. Even if this didn't emulate a toy we've already had for ages, there are so many products marketed towards kids entering programming, and none of them seem to have really taken off at all. Lego Mindstorms has probably been the most

    • I don't think it's like the 1000-in-one type kits. t's quite a bit different, though you did point out something it's exactly like, Lego Mindstorm. It's no different than that. As for if this will take off or not? Well google is heavily used in the classroom for education in north america, and I could see that being leveraged to expand education programming for this. Schools love lego mindstorm and this seems like a step to overtake that market. I don't see anyone buying it really for home use, as a gift re

      • by rgbscan ( 321794 )

        They are almost a direct rip off of "littleBits" which have been out for a couple of years.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Yep. The core problem is that only very few kids are interested in coding and these usually find that interest as teenagers, not before. Hence this is just as futile as all the other "teach everybody and their dog how to code" projects. While there is strong indication at least a large part of the industry behind this wants cheaper coders (and completely misses that this would be really, really bad coders), the individuals driving this just seem to be fundamentally ignorant about the realities of who can le

  • They have something like this at the Denver Museums of Nature and Science robotics exhibit. It's these [], actually.

    The focus is more on electronics and robotics than logical structure, but similar. They were very fun to play with. My kids spent most of their time at that station.

  • potty-training still needs some work, though
  • whatever happened to giving them a stream of encrypted porn and letting them have at it?
    Kids these days are soft.
    • by NadNad ( 550015 )

      whatever happened to giving them a stream of encrypted porn and letting them have at it?

      Kids these days are soft.

      They're being soft is both the cause and effect of not being able to see that porn?

  • by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @05:22PM (#52401705)
    Sheesh, just leave it alone. Seems like they are trying to teach "coding" a younger and younger age. The interested ones will figure it out on their own.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I started programming when I was 3, thanks to the local nursery buying a programmable toy. Just hoping kids figure stuff out for themselves doesn't sound like a very good plan.

    • I think this product looks pretty neat. It sort of reminds me of the old computer games Rocky's Boots and Gertrude's Secrets.

      The idea is to introduce kids to some simple logic and control elements and get them to play.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @05:30PM (#52401751) Homepage

    Google Launches 'Project Bloks' Toys To Teach Kids To Code

    Good job they're not trying to teach kids to spell.

  • Can we go back to calling it programming yet? Code is the product of programming. Code is something you create and put to use through programming. Unless of course you say "coding" as a verb.
    • Can we go back to calling it programming yet?

      Not in place of "code", no. You can use it in place of "coding" if you like, they are pretty much interchangeable. Why do we have to use one rather than the other?

      Unless of course you say "coding" as a verb.

      Or indeed "code" as a verb [] the way it is used in the title and summary.

  • What is with all this hand-holding and coddling to try and teach children the skills they need for life? Children are the largest demographic of people who contribute NOTHING to the tax coffers and are always on the take. This is just another example of the rampant ageism that exists in STEM fields.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:33PM (#52402759)

    Not this fucking shit again........

    Everyone must learn to code or you'll starve to death in the new economy!!

    • >Everyone must learn to code or you'll starve to death in the new economy!!

      Well, computer science IS everywhere these days.

      But I see it more as an attempt to solve the rather difficult problem of how to get people started on programming. The people who do best in computer science classes in college are almost universally people that have done coding before as a hobby or something. This would be another way of providing that knowledge.

      Do you get equally upset at science museums for trying to teach student

  • BASIC seemed to work just fine when I was 6 years old, I didn't need it dumbed down.

    I used a book called "Usborne Guide to Computer Games" to get going, got it from the library: https://2warpstoneptune.files.... []

  • This again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @10:26PM (#52403225)

    Endlessly reinventing the same tired old wheel.

    We have a name for this. It's called Visual Programming, and it sucks. Really, it does. Even better, this physical version of the concept retains all the suck of the original, then adds extra suck, when you run out of the control bloks you need.

    This whole concept bizarrely teaches physical limitations in the one realm where physical limitations do not apply: programming[1]. Your programs are limited by the number and type of "lines of code" that you have in the bucket. *boggle* Project Bloks is likely to drive a new generation of coders to develop a level of terseness that would make a Perl devotee weep. Is that really what you want?

    I'm sure this is entertaining for about 5 minutes. After that, even the five year olds shown in the video will lose interest. Thankfully, there will be no new generation of Perl mavens with a bucket full of regexes.


    [1] In this house, young lady, we obey the.... yeah yeah, put your hand down, you in the back. You know what I meant.

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @04:19AM (#52404201)

    I think this is just another simplistic "solution" to a problem not quite understood. We have seen similar projects in the past - in the 70es it was "University for All"; everybody should be pushed through some sort of higher education, it didn't really matter which or whether it actually gave useful skills. Not that education isn't a good thing, but as it turned out, having a major in creative arts wasn't always what the economy needed. And, it is not a bad thing as such if everybody knows how to write code - at least you may then have a basis for understanding what computers can (and not least: cannot) do, but the real problems for the economy are not as simple as "not enough coders". And the problems with the economy are not the most important in society either; I would say inequality is a far more important problem to solve. Inequality lies behind most of the unrest in the world, just as it always has.

  • Teach a kid to code and you create a carpenter. Teach a kid to think and you create an architect. Which is better?

  • Just look at this:

    You will notice Bloks is basically the physical implementation of MIT's web based Scratch language for kids.
    Furthermore, I think the web based version would be a great natural next step for those children, since it will allow them even more freedom and sophistication plus the ability to share their creations with other children.

    Say what you will about the evil empire, It's good to see something like this coming out of Google.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder