Codie: A robotic toy to teach programming

This week as I searched for news on programming and kids, Codie, came up noticeably more than once, e.g., TechCrunch and The Next Web. Codie, expected to launch in November 2015, is another in a genre of toys focusing on teaching programming to kids using robots or other tangible modalities.

codieCodie is a robot with a simple design including a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, microphone and sensors. Accompanying Codie is an app that enables you to program it using a brand new language created by Codie’s co-founders, Adam Lipecz and Andras Hollo, to bridge “the gap between kids’ imagination and the algorithmic thinking.” (Indiegogo, April 2015). Kids should find better engagement with the coding process because there is no compiling time so changes can be seen in real-time, and the touchscreen interface has “a focus on gestures to help kids feel engaged with the visual coding process” (Lomas, TechCrunch, April 3, 2015).

The target age group of Codie is 8-12 year-olds, but a future planned feature to convert Codie code into JavaScript could help transition learners beyond this target. In addition, the promises of the new Codie language with its layered approach to teaching programming concepts, i.e., starting with the simple before moving to the complex, could help a younger age group to learn the basics of variables, conditionals and loops, as well. It will be interesting to see if Codie’s touch interface and “separated data flows” (explained by Codie as “an advanced way of assigning parameters to blocks, while keeping the whole program clear of the details”) combined with outputs to a physical format (the robot) do lead to more intuitive understanding of programming by young kids than leading visual languages like Blockly and Scratch.

Read more about Codie and their Indiegogo campaign.