Google makes coding physical for kids: Page 2 of 2

July 06, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Google Creative Lab's Project Bloks research collaboration aims to entice kids to code through recreational problem solving, providing colourful tangible blocks that once snapped together, send their equivalent in compiled code to a nearby robot or application.

The core components of the Project Bloks system

Built on a Raspberry Pi Zero, the Brain Board is the processing unit of the system, it provides the other boards with power and contains an API to receive and send data to the Base Boards. It is the unit that will ultimately compile and sends the code to any device with a WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity.

Each Base Board is fitted with a haptic motor and LEDs that can be used to give end-users real time feedback (this could be green when a code is valid, or red when there is a compile error or a bug). The Base Boards can also trigger audio feedback from the Brain Board’s built-in speaker. While the Base Boards can be connected in different orientations to create different programming flows, they take their instructions from the Pucks, inexpensive, customizable physical instructions that seat on top of them.

The Pucks are swappable, they share their instructions "written" as patterns of conductive ink, whose orientation and direction can be sensed by the Base Board's capacitive sensor. These cheap physical instructions could be made of paper or cardboard or take the shape of many different interactive forms, they help bring the infinite flexibility of software programming commands to tangible programming experiences, write the researchers in their blog.


The Coding Kit including several Base Boards,
a Brain Board and colourful Pucks.

Together with IDEO, the Google Creative Lab has designed a coding kit for kids to learn basic concepts of programming (putting code bricks together to create a set of instructions). The researchers are now looking for participants (educators, developers, parents and researchers) from around the world to remotely take part in their research studies.

Visit the project's page or sign up for taking part in the research studies at https://projectbloks.withgoogle.com

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