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Google Bloks aims to introduce children to basic programming concepts
Google has just announced that they’re working on a platform that seeks to make the basics of programming accessible to children age five and up. The project, called Bloks, isn’t a commercial endeavor, but rather a kind of proof of concept. Google is developing the technology in the hopes that commercial entities might see the potential in it and begin developing such toys for retail.
The early versions of the technology that Google demos in their video look a bit like that ancient flash game Light-Bot, with users assembling physical blocks that relay a set of instructions to a robot. The idea is to take the abstract nature of programming and shuffle it backstage, allowing developing minds to explore its fundamentals using physical objects.
The team compares this platform development to the art world. In days of yore, painters had to create their own paints themselves by acquiring and combining a variety of materials and preparing them in complex and time-consuming ways. Artists were required to have not just adroit fingers and an eye for design, but also an in-depth interest in the creation of pigments.
Nowadays, painters don’t need to be concerned with the processes that go into getting hues onto their canvases. That work can be left to those for whom paint making is their primary passion, and artists can simply pick up a set of paints at the local art store. Now painting is more accessible, so we have more painters and paintings than ever before.
The idea is to take the abstract nature of programming and shuffle it backstage.
In the same way, Google is seeking to develop programming platforms such that those who are less interested in the nuts and bolts of programming languages can still creatively engage computational thinking. This is similar to how redstone of Minecraft fame has introduced millions of youngsters to logic gates and basic electrical/computer engineering problems.
Again, Google has no interest in entering the toy-making business, but it would be interesting to start seeing toys like this arrive in the commercial market. The world, after all, is only going to be increasingly technological, so it’s important to get kids invested in the basics from an early age.
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