The robots are coming, the robots are coming! I can’t wait.
Last November I came across a crowd funding campaign from play-i, now Wonder Workshop, to build programmable robots with the goal of teaching kids to code. Now, a year later, the robot invasion is nearly upon us and the world is about to be changed forever. For the better! As the robot army prepares to span the globe, children all of the world are about to step into the world of programming without even realizing it. Learning through play, it’s the best way to learn. The relationship between plan and learning in children is well documented. But how many of the thousands upon thousand of toys marketed towards your children really look to take advantage of this relationship?
At Wonder Workshop they believe kids too often get told the right and wrong things to do. They believe that too often their success level is measured by standardized tests rather than their creativity and individual ingenuity. They are on a mission to empower children, to encourage them to create, to learn through play, and to become “shapers of their own world” rather than passive bystanders. We should be running to join them on this mission. Schools should be running.
I am a father of 3 and I am a coder so the Wonder Workshop Mission really hits home. We live in an increasingly digital, computer driven world. Should we not teach our children the language of the world? I spend my days building websites, databases, and custom solutions with computer code. It sounds dreadfully boring, right? Because computer programming is repetitive, complicated and rigid. Right? WRONG!
Code can be elegant. Efficient. Creative. It doesn’t repeat itself, it builds upon itself. At its best it blurs the lines between genius and magic. It solves problems. Plenty of those to go around. When you are facing a complex problem code can help you break it apart into simpler steps. This is a pretty good skill to have, no? Slowly, artfully, you create building blocks, and then…poof! Magic.
Imagine you are looking down at a single brick. You know what it is, it’s a brick. You’ve seen a brick before and chances are you don’t find it very exciting. You might even go so far as to call it boring. But now imagine you’re standing in the shadow of 10 million bricks combined with 60,000 tons of steel, 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite, and 730 tons of aluminum and stainless steel. Still boring? You’re standing in the shadow of the Empire State Building, one of the most iconic buildings in all the world. How does someone dream up something so grandiose? I’ll tell you how they do it: they start with an idea, they make a sketch, they start thinking about the different parts needed to make up the whole. And then they build, brick by brick. Coding is no different. It teaches problem solving and creative thinking, pretty powerful tools to have in your arsenal. Don’t you want your kids to have these skills? But how can we teach them? Through play. Through robots. The robots are coming and I can’t wait!
Kids will shape our future. Isn’t it about time we start shaping our kids with more thoughtful and creative toys? Thanks Wonder Workshop. I hope others will follow your lead.