Schools Training

Seven kids coding projects that crowdfunded their first steps

27 MAR 2014

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There’s currently a big buzz around the idea of kids learning to code, fuelled in the UK by the fact that from September, programming will be part of the curriculum for children as young as five years old.

There are also a number of communities emerging around this area: parents keen to give their children the chance to see if they take to coding; teachers figuring out what tools and languages to use in the classroom; volunteers running after-school coding clubs; and technology companies contributing funding and other resources.

There’s another growing community that draws from all of those groups, though: an online crowd that is helping a number of coding-for-kids projects get off the ground by pledging money on websites like Kickstarter. Several of the most prominent projects took their early steps through crowdfunding, including apps, books and boardgames.

Those communities of backers are good for more than hard cash, though: they’re providing early feedback on the resulting products, and spreading the word about them to other parents and teachers. Here are six successful examples (plus one that didn’t meet its target) from recent times:

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Kano

Pitched as “a computer anyone can make”, Kano raised $1.5m on Kickstarter in December 2013. It aims to put a friendlier face on the pioneering Raspberry Pi computer: parents pay $129 to get a case, speaker and keyboard, although their children still have to build the computer before they can start exploring its Kano Blocks visual programming language. Manipulating jigsaw-like blocks which represent JavaScript and Python code, it helps them create their own programs, with a Minecraft tie-in ensuring the popular creation game is available too.

More information: www.kano.me

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Play-i

US startup Play-i is all about the robots: a pair of toy robots called Bo and Yana, who are controlled by the code that children have created using a companion app. The company chose to crowdfund through its own website rather than Kickstarter, raising more than $1.4m in pre-orders in its first month and selling out of its first batch of bots. Yana costs $59, Bo costs $169 or the pair can be bought for $228. The app will support several age ranges too: 5-8 year-olds will use a playful programming interface with music, stories and animation, while kids aged eight and up will get their hands dirty with programming languages Scratch and Blockly.

More information: www.play-i.com

 

Read full article: The Guardian