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Root Is a Little Robot on a Mission to Teach Kids to Code


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A Root robot on a whiteboard.

Researchers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute designed the Root robot to teach both children and adults to code.

Credit: Wyss Institute/Harvard University

Researchers from Harvard University's Wyss Institute say their robot is ready to teach both kids and adults how to code.

The team spent three years developing a small, squat hexagon called Root, which is programmed to be cheerful and friendly and resembles the vacuum-cleaning Roomba. It features scanners on its bottom, bumpers along its sides, and a touch interface on top, and Root knows when it is on a magnetic surface. A holder for a dry-erase marker sits on the center of the robot, which can draw on a whiteboard and erase it as well.

Using the whiteboard, an iPad, and a language that is easy to understand, children learn to code by teaching Root how to interact with the world. The software language is a simple, graphics-based interface that follows an "if-this-then-that" framework, and Root can detect nearby Wi-Fi devices and has light-sensitive sensors.

The robot's abilities scale up depending on a child's coding proficiency, and the programming language also scales. For example, at Level 3, anyone can program Root using programming languages such as Javascript.

From Wired
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