CES 2015: Robots can teach a kindergartner to code

Teaching kids to code with a robot and an app #CES2015

Teaching kids to talk tech is all the rage these days. It's not uncommon to see coding listed among the languages offered at schools. But tech-powered playthings mostly offer a passive experience with the underlying technology.

Wonder Workshop aims to fill the void of toys connecting kids with that coding DNA. Its robots, Dash and Dot, are designed for kids ages 5 to 12 to work in conjunction with an app, available for iOS and Android, to teach the "fundamental ideas of programming." 

"We believe coding is an essential skill that brings out the creativity for the...21st century," said Vikas Gupta, founder and chief executive. "It's an important skill for every child to grow up with, irrespective of what they grow up to be."

The robots are expandable and transformable with accessories such as a xylophone for musical programming or even Lego blocks. 

Some asked on Twitter what a child so young might be able to learn. Gupta answered: "The very first thing the 5-year-old picks up is [that] a robot is controlled by what they do on a device like an iPad. So iPad becomes a device for them to create and not just consume content."

Young users also start to learn the basics of programming, such as putting things in a sequence, planning and debugging, he said.  

The tween user can learn to develop apps for the robots on iOS and Android using Objective C and Java.

Gupta himself learned his first computer language (BASIC) as a teenager, and now, as a father of two, he was inspired to start Wonder Workshop after spending time with his daughter. 

The robots are available on the Wonder Workshop site and Amazon. Dash costs $199, and the pair together costs $259. Accessories range from about $20 to $40. The apps are free. 

Are you a parent who geeks out about electronics? Talk tech with me: @mmaltaisla

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