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News Link • Technology: Software

Can You Teach Programming With Plywood?

•, By Joseph Flaherty
  It’s an important question a startup called Primo is asking, and if their Kickstarter campaign is successful your child will have her first exposure to algorithms right after nap time and just before recess.
Their first product is a $262 kit that consists of two Arduino powered components, a plywood board that acts like a compiler and a wooden robot called “Cubetto” that works like a three dimensional cursor. Colorful wooden blocks are encoded with instructions for the robot and when placed in sequence on the compiler board they become a kind of low-fi software.

Red blocks move the robot forward, blue turn it to the left, and yellow arrows turn it right. Kiddos arrange the blocks and press a button to compile their program while an Arduino hidden in the wooden box translates the instructions into code that is executed by the robot.

This analog approach fills a niche in the burgeoning “teach everyone to code” market. “All the noteworthy programs and products require literacy and screens,” says Primo managing director Filippo Yacob. “Before we can teach children programming we need to teach them the logic behind it, so they can find the topic easy as they progress to further learning.” Primo might not be able to say “Hello World,” but it makes object oriented programming tangible and helps kids write their first program while still wearing footie pajamas.

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