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Harvard-made robot can teach kids how to code

Engadget Engadget 19/04/2016 Mariella Moon
© Provided by Engadget

If you want to get kids' full undivided attention, you'll have to think of a fun way to do things. That's why a group of roboticists from Harvard's Wyss Institute created Root: a small hexagonal robot designed to ignite their interest in coding. Root was designed to crawl on a white board, using the markers and erasers it carries on command. Kids can control it by moving icons around in its accompanying app called Square (get it?). They simply have to make if-then statements using the icons, so even very young children can make the robot draw doodles and erase them afterwards. Older kids (and adults), however, can easily switch to the app's more advanced, text-based interface.

Since the robot can show what coding can do in real time, it could spark a genuine interest in pursuing a career in the field. Wyss Institute's lead robotics researcher Zivthan Dubrovsky said:

We're in the digital world, but schools don't teach coding. America needs computer programmers to be competitive -- 71 percent of new jobs in STEM are going to be centered around coding. If we can solve this problem, this will be a big step forward for our country.

The team's still looking for partners that can bring Root to classrooms at the moment. If and when they succeed, they plan to develop a curriculum that will get children exploring all the robot's capabilities.

Harvard Gazette, Harvard Wyss Institute, Wired, Root robot

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