New Tools Make Robot Programming Fun for Kids

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Playgrounds are popular spaces for young children to play and learn. They promote exploration of the physical environment and motor and social skill development, allowing young children to be autonomous while developing core competencies.

Playpens, by contrast, corral children into safe, confined spaces. Although they are mostly risk-free, there is little opportunity for exploration and imaginative play.

From a developmental perspective, the playground promotes a sense of mastery, creativity, self-confidence, social awareness and open exploration, while the playpen hinders development of these traits.

“We’re trying to develop technologies to get us as close as we can to the metaphor of the playground,” said Marina Umaschi Bers, a professor of computer science and Child Development at Tufts University, director of DevTech research group and author of Designing Digital Experiences for Positive Youth Development: From Playpen to Playground.

Many are familiar with Bers through her work on ScratchJr. – a programming language where even students who are too young to read and write can put together actions in a sequence to create interactive stories, games and animations.

Last June, with NSF support, Bers and her colleagues released ScratchJr. as a free app for children ages 5 to 7. (A Kickstarter campaign in May raised $75,000 to adapt the app for Android and iPad.) As of February 2015, ScratchJr. had more than 500,000 downloads worldwide.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video ratio=”16-9″ link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOQ-9S3lOnM”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]To read the rest of this article, published in Robotics Trends, please click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]