The evolving nature of technology, the jobs we work may not be the same and may not even exist in the future. The one thing we do know is that learning how to program will be important. But, if you don’t know how to code, how do you teach your kids? The toy and game industry is taking notice and developing toys to fill that niche.
One of those companies is Tangible Play, which has developed Osmo, a system of blocks that work with special hardware and an iPad to teach kids through games. The starter set comes with a base to hold the iPad, a mirror that attaches to the iPad that focuses the camera on the area in front of the iPad, along with letter blocks, number blocks, and colorful shapes. A free app uses these components for math games, a hangman-type spelling game, tangrams and a drawing program.
The kit for coding includes blocks that would be used for basic gaming programs, such as move, jump and grab. Blocks for numbers and loops allow your kid to create scripts. Squares light up on the screen so that they can preview their code and make changes as needed. When the script is executed, the fun, gender-neutral character named Awbie navigates mazes and obstacles. As kids level up to more complex mazes, they collect prizes which they can use to build up a campsite where their pet can live.
While this is obviously not anyone’s ticket to a job at Microsoft, Osmo teaches kids basic programming concepts. And because is open-ended like Lego, it can be used to design whatever they like, houses, planes and more. They have the ability to use their imagination and create things they enjoy, which is key in getting them to fall in love with coding.
Tangible Play has plans to add more features which will give kids more options to be creative. Currently, there is a purple block that grows flowers throughout their game. In the future, there will be even more options to edit game scenes.
Co-founder of Tangible Play, Mr. Sharma grew up in rural India and did not learn to code until he got to college. Before founding Tangible Play, he spent six years at Google. While understanding the pressure that parents are feeling to make sure their kids are prepared, he says that Osmo’s goal is to build confidence in kids through educational toys. The important thing is that kids are having fun, while learning the building blocks of coding.