Root robot teaches coding in three stages of fun

A new robot is on Kickstarter called Root and the purpose of this robot is to teach anyone from age 4 to 99 how to code using a fun and simple approach. Root is designed to drive on walls, tables, and magnetic surfaces and is able to make games and coding challenges that will reinforce computational thinking. Root can be programmed to perform all sorts of tasks.

Tasks such as moving, turning, drawing, erasing, scanning colors, playing music, lighting up, sensing touches, feeling bumps, detecting magnetic surfaces, perceiving light, and responding to sensors on your phone or tablet. Root is controlled via an app that supports coders of different ages and backgrounds. The first level is graphical programming for beginners of any age, even kids who can't read yet.

Level 1 uses basic "if this, then that" framework to teach events, sequences, loops, states, functions, priorities, timing, program stepping, and debugging. Level 2 brings in advanced flow statements like when, repeat, and if-then-else to help with computational fluency. This level also teaches variables, sensor values, units, arithmetic operations, recursion, and parallelism.

Level 3 is full text programming using Python, JavaScript, and Swift. This level also teaches text equivalent of code from the previous levels. The folks behind Root see it as a tool for people to play with and learn from in the home and at school. Root is seeking $250,000 and has raised over $325,000 as of writing with 39 hours to go. A pledge of $175 or more will get a Root with shipping in May 2017. A classroom kit with 6 Root bots and associated gear sells for $1,000 or more with shipping in May 2017.

SOURCE: Kickstarter