project bloks by google + IDEO empowers kids to program by physically assembling code




from pioneering work in the area of childhood learning by experience, exploration and manipulation, to research started in the 1970s by seymour papert and radia perman with games like ‘logo’ and ‘turtle’, the best way for kids to explore coding was through a wide range of basic manipulation platforms. google, with the help of IDEO and stanford university professor paulo blikstein, have created ‘project bloks’ – an open hardware platform that researchers, developers, designers and especially kids can use to build physical coding experiences.





the ‘project bloks’ system is made up of three core components – the ‘brain board’, the ‘base boards’ and ‘pucks’. when connected together they create a set of instructions which can be sent to connected devices, things like toys or tablets, over wifi or bluetooth. 

the three main components of the open-sourced platform




‘pucks’ are what make the platform so versatile. they help bring the flexibility of software programming commands to tangible experiences. ‘pucks’ can be programmed with different instructions, such as ‘turn on or off’, ‘move left’ or ‘jump’. they can also take the shape of many different interactive forms – switches, dials or buttons. with no active electronic components, they’re also inexpensive and easy to make. 

each group of blocks creates a physical set of commands



the ‘brain board’ is built on a raspberry ‘pi zero’ system which processes all the interconnected information. it also provides the other boards with power, and contains an API to receive and send data to the ‘base boards’. as a whole, the ‘project bloks’ system can take on different form factors and be made out of different materials. this means developers have the flexibility to create diverse experiences that can help kids develop computational thinking – from composing music using functions to play around with sensors or anything else they care to invent.





the ‘project bloks’ team worked with IDEO to create a reference device, called the ‘coding kit’ to show creatives how they can make use of the system. it lets kids learn basic concepts of programming by allowing them to put codes bricks together to create a set of instructions that can be sent to control connected toys and devices like a drawing robot or educational tools for exploring science. 

a set of sample creations 

the ‘base’ blocks that connect to each other to communicate