[LINK] Google: Project Bloks: Making Code Physical for Kids

Stephen Loosley stephenloosley at zoho.com
Tue Jun 28 19:19:02 AEST 2016

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Project Bloks: Making Code Physical for Kids

Monday, June 27, 2016  (Today in the U.S.)

Posted by Steve Vranakis and Jayme Goldstein, 
Executive Creative Director and Project Lead, Google Creative Lab 

At Google, we’re passionate about empowering children to create and explore with technology. 

We believe that when children learn to code, they’re not just learning how to program a computer—they’re learning a new language for creative expression and are developing computational thinking: a skillset for solving problems of all kinds. 

In fact, it’s a skillset whose importance is being recognised around the world—from President Obama’s CS4All program to the inclusion of Computer Science in the UK National Curriculum. We’ve long supported and advocated the furthering of CS education through programs and platforms such as Blockly, Scratch Blocks, CS First and Made w/ Code. 

Today, we’re happy to announce Project Bloks, a research collaboration between Google, Paulo Blikstein (Stanford University) and IDEO with the goal of creating an open hardware platform that can be used to build physical coding experiences. 


As a first step, we’ve created a system for tangible programming and built a working prototype. We’re sharing our progress before conducting more research over the summer to inform what comes next. 

Physical coding 

Kids are inherently playful and social. They naturally play and learn by using their hands, building stuff and doing things together. Making code physical - known as tangible programming - offers a unique way to combine the way children innately play and learn with computational thinking. 

Project Bloks is shaped by a long history of educational theory and research in the area of hands-on learning. From Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget’s pioneering work in the area of learning by experience, exploration and manipulation, to the research started in the 1970s by Seymour Papert and Radia Perlman with LOGO and TORTIS. This exploration has continued to grow. (snip)

The Project Bloks system 

We’ve designed a system that can customised, reconfigured and rearranged to create all kinds of different tangible programming experiences.

The Project Bloks system is made up of three core components the “Brain Board”, “Base Boards” and “Pucks”. 

When connected together they create a set of instructions which can be sent to connected devices, things like toys or tablets, over wifi or Bluetooth. 

The Brain Board is the processing unit of our system, built on a Raspberry Pi Zero.  https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/pi-zero

What’s next? 

We are looking for participants (educators, developers, parents and researchers) from around the world who would like to help shape the future of Computer education by remotely taking part in our research studies later in the year. 

If you would like to be part of our research study or simply receive updates on the project, please sign up. http://projectbloks.withgoogle.com/register-interest

If you want more context and detail on Project Bloks, you can read our position paper. 


Finally, a big thank you to the team beyond Google who’ve helped us get this far—including all the pioneers of tangible learning and programming who’ve inspired and informed so much of this thinking. 


Cheers, people
Stephen Loosley
Member, Victorian
Institute of Teaching

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