No assembler required | The Economist

No assembler required KIBO, Dash, Vortex & Hackaball provide a playful way to learn #programming

Dr Umaschi Bers is not alone in that quest. KIBO, made by KinderLab Robotics (of which she is chief science officer when she is not doing her day job), is unusual only in that its instruction set is so tied to physical objects. Other toys being developed to teach young children the rudiments of programming use not wooden blocks but blocks of code, presented as icons of various sorts on the screens of tablets, smartphones and even old-fashioned PCs. Instead of being scanned, these instructions are uploaded wirelessly to the robots they are intended to control—robots that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Some, like Vortex (a wheeled device that resembles a flattened motorcycle helmet) and Dash (a tetrahedron of spheres which, besides moving around at its programmer’s command, can also play tunes on a glockenspiel), are, like KIBO, designed mainly to scuttle across the living-room floor. Others, though, are heading in a different direction.

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