“In a world where the digital is omnipresent, learning how to code has to be done at the same time as learning how to read or to count. Tomorrow, specifying on the resume competencies such as mastering the HTML or Java code will be as superfluous as saying we’re able to count up to 10 or walking with both feet.” (SoonSoonSoon – 100 Innovations that will change your life)
In this new world of connected objects, mastering the language code becomes as important as mastering a foreign language. So better to learn it from an early age so that it becomes the language of the game itself.
It’s with this idea in mind and the wish to pass on their passion to new generations, that four former engineers from Google, Apple and Frog Design founded the Play-i company and developed the ideal tool that appeal to children AND give them access to the coding concept.
It’s about two little robots which, by playing with them, will equip children with the intelligence to understand not only how to use them but their operating mode and the logical reasoning behind it.
Initially named Yana & Bo, today the two robots have been renamed as Dash & Dot and are marketed by Wonder Workshop.
Dash & Dot will therefore teach children programming through a playful, simple and creative approach that combines learning and fun. Thus, the education via Dash & Dot, two androids designed for 5-8 olds, is done through exploration, play and discovery. More than just two robots, Dash & Dot represent an amazing educational tool that will allow children to discover new ways of playing and learning, through stories or challenges.
At first glance, Dash & Dot look any toy found in supermarkets. Except that the children cannot play with them directly unless they learn how to program them. The two cute robots are equipped with sensors and it’s up to children and their imagination to create powerful and fun interactions with them (e.g. programing the robot to bring a flower to their mother, to carry blocks from one point to another, to play music, to make helicopter sounds by shaking the robot).
In addition to Scratch and Blockly, Play-i offers a more accessible programming environment based on simple and intuitive graphical objects that allows 5 years old children to program the two beautifully designed robots.
There is not a particular language (which will soon become obsolete) that is taught here but rather the logic of coding. Without even realizing it, the child acts as a real programmer, in an instinctive and playful way. As the child becomes familiar with the interface and the robot, the sequences vary in difficulty and become more complicated.
Programming Dash & Dot is done depending on the children’s age group.
For example, for children aged 5 to 8 years, there is a visual programming interface which displays music, stories and animations.
For children aged 8 to 12 years old, there is a visual programming language created by Google and MIT.
Finally, for children aged 12 or older, it is possible to write the code, to develop applications for iOS and Android operating systems using APIs.
The existing examples of programming interface for the younger ones, the robots, the video games and the augmented reality are tools that could replace some of the traditional courses. Something to make us wish going back to school!