Jun 29, 2016

What If Coding Were As Easy as Playing With Blocks?

Throughout the year, I teach an online class to teachers on the topic of differentiated instruction.  One aspect of that class deals with student learning styles.  Each time I teach the class, I have teachers take an online assessment to determine their learning style.  It is often interesting to see how many of them are kinesthetic learners.  

I've always believed that students learn best by doing.  By actively engaging with their surroundings, students' brains create pathways that link what they see, hear, and do to create memories of the experience.  The more pathways that are linked to a memory, the easier it is for students to access those memories later in life.  

As kids, many of us learned by working with tangible items such as blocks, legos, lincoln logs, and erector sets.  Working with these toys builds creativity, but also helps to develop spatial reasoning.  Well, what if coding worked the same way?  What if students could learn the language of coding in a hands-on way, such as using building blocks?

Google is currently working on a collaborative project to do just that.  Project Bloks is a program in which programmers and developers are working to create tools to help kids learn about coding using tangible blocks.  By making the process a physical experience, it is the hope that children can pick up the basics of coding in a way that is more natural to them.  Check out the video from the Project Bloks site:

Some of the basic pieces of the Bloks program utilize blocks called Pucks.  Pucks will carry out a specific task, such as on/off, move, or jump functions.  These can be controlled by Base Boards and Brain Boards that read instructions, and convey information to wireless devices. 

Personally, I can't wait until this becomes a marketed curriculum that is available to schools.  As a parent, I would love my children to have these kinds of experiences so they can learn how to code.  In the past few years, there have been a long list of resources made available to help kids learn to code.  Until Bloks is available, check this short list of  resources on learning to code.  

For now, Project Blok is still in the research phase, but the site has more information if you are interested.  Plus, you can sign up to be notified of future progress.  Check it out here