Google announced Project Bloks, an open hardware platform that allows developers to build their own devices and is aimed at helping kids learn to code.
From Googles Creative Lab Goldstein and Wilbert worked together with IDEO and Paulo Blikstein, the Director of Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford University to develop this project.
The platform has 3 parts that make up the development system to allow for customization, reconfiguration, and rearrangement.
The first part is called the “Brain Board,” which is a Raspberry Pi Zero based board. The board will be the central processing unit and power unit. The Brain Board talks to the “Pucks” and “Base Board,” which make up the physical programming language. The board contains an API to receive and send data to the Base Boards. It sends the instructions from the Base Board to any device with WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity and an API.
Pucks are used to send commands such as ‘turn on or off’, ‘move left’ or ‘jump’. Google shows the use of buttons, dials, and switches, however you are able to use different forms such as paper with conductive ink.
The Base Board reads the commands from the Pucks and transmits them to the Brain Board. The Base Board has haptic motors and an LED to allow users to get real-time feedback. It can also be used to play audio using the speakers that come on the Brain Board.
In the introduction video kids use Bloks to control a Lego WeDo 2.0 robot. Project Bloks may pave the way for a new way of learning how to code and build systems for kids.
“Imagine what could happen if we had 10 times more people developing ways for children to learn coding and computational thinking: not just the traditional way, but kits that would teach programming in different ways such as making music or controlling the physical world,” Blikstein said in a statement. “That is what this platform will enable: make it easy to think outside of the box, without all the technical obstacles.”
Google is looking for educators, developers, parents and researchers, from around the world to remotley participate in research studies later in the year. You can sign up for the study here.