Earlier today I posted a piece to The Hackfest about a junior hackathon called ‘JHack’ which teaches kids to code using Minecraft. The hackathon was successful because it allowed students to see the impact their skills could have straight away rather than sitting through an (often tedious) coding lecture.
As the world around us becomes taken-over with technology, it’s become vital we teach younger generations the virtues of learning to understand and program computers. Vortex, a small programmable robot, has launched today on Kickstarter with a similar aim of teaching kids to code through an interactive experience.
Created by DFRobot, a company that’s been selling open-source hardware since 2008, their Kickstarter goal is to raise $50,000 to bring their project to life. The device itself can fit in the palm of your hand and is powered by Arduino. Vortex – like DFRobot’s previous devices – is also open-source to ensure its possibilities are (almost!) endless.
Hardware specs include; Bluetooth 4.0, USB, I2C, a six LED on top, a six LED on the bottom, a speaker, ground sensor, proximity sensor, and “Eye Display” with 32 different fun expressions. Vortex can also be expanded with other sensors for temperature, sound, accelerometer, gyroscope, ultrasonic, touch sensor, and more via the I2C socket.
Vortex connects with an iOS or Android companion app via Bluetooth to begin teaching kids how the robot functions through four built-in games; Bumping Fight, Virtual Golf, Driving, and Robot Soccer. If you have an iPad, kids can program Vortex through simple drag-and-drop modules in a visually-engaging workspace.
To ensure Vortex is accessible to as many people as possible, a single device will cost just $69 and includes the golf set and a pack of stickers to play games. Two devices for multiplayer games will cost $119 during the Kickstarter campaign – a $19 saving over buying individually. Vortex is expected to ship in the fall.
For more information or to back Vortex, head to its Kickstarter page here.
Do you think teaching kids to program is vital? Let us know in the comments.