December 7, 2015
This week is Computer Science Education Week (December 7-13). This means lots of events around the country with a focus on getting kids interested in computer science. As part of the week-long celebration, millions of children will be taking part in Hour of Code events, which gets kids learning about programming at an early age – the younger the better.
One of the companies that will be participating in these events, including Hour of Code is Wonder Workshop. Wonder Workshop has the goal of teaching kids as young as six to code by making it fun and playful. They’ve developed robotic tools (specifically two robots named Dash and Dot), to teach kids computer science in an accessible way.
Wonder Workshop will be participating in Computer Science Education Week in two major ways. On December 7th, the programmable robots Dash & Dot will be featured during an Innovation Show-and-Tell organized by the non-profit Code.org. This event, which will be held at the NASDAQ headquarters in NYC and will also feature demonstrations by Sphero and Google Cardboard, among others.
The next day, December 8th, Wonder Workshop will partner with the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, to host a Star Wars themed Hour of Code. Students, faculty, staff, and other community members will learn about the coding that is involved in creating these films, and then they will be challenged to write a line of code themselves. As an added selling point for this event, the attendees will get to see exclusive “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” footage.
The event at UCF will be one of more than 156,000 Hour of Code events taking place in over 80 countries. It will be led by College of Education and Human Performance Assistant Professor Megan Nickels. It turns out that Nickels has a unique connection to Dash & Dot.
When she was working on her PhD, she volunteered at a children’s hospital in Illinois. She saw that the very sick children often struggled with math concepts, so she introduced the robots into her lessons to help the kids learn. Since the Wonder Works robots allow children use tablets to code their behaviors, the children were learning in a fun and interactive way, and, at least temporarily, distracted from their illnesses.
Children from BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation in Winter Park—where Nickels currently volunteers—will be at Hour of Code to share how the robots are helping them learn. Co-founder and CEO of Wonder Workshop,Vikas Guptawill also be in attendance.
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