Google launches Project Bloks, a New Open Hardware Platform for Teaching Kids to Code

Frederic Lardinois | Tech Crunch | June 27, 2016

Google today announced Project Bloks, a new open hardware platform that allows developers, designers and educators to build physical programming experiences that can help kids (5+) learn to code. While Google worked together with design firm IDEO to build a reference kit, the idea here is to provide a platform that others can use to build their own devices. Google’s team provides the basics of the platform, but the team tells me that it doesn’t currently plan to build its own retail version.

“Right now, Google has no plans to get into the toy industry,” team lead Jayme Goldstein and tech lead Joao Wilbert told me. To bring this project to life, Goldstein and Wilbert, who work for Google’s Creative Lab, worked together with the Google Research and Education teams, IDEO, and Paulo Blikstein, the Director of the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford University.

While there has been a lot of interest in tangible programming among educators, research has been slow. It’s hard to experiment with tangible programming, the Bloks team argues, because it takes a lot of engineering work — and hence money — to build one of these platforms from scratch. The question the team asked itself was: “Could we create the technical underpinnings to make it easier for researchers to create tangible programming experiences?”...