A Wall-Crawling Roomba That Teaches Kids to Code

A Wall-Crawling Roomba That Teaches Kids to Code

Published By: The Atlantic, 11/30/2016

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A team of engineers from Harvard University have created a robot named Root, along with a multi-language coding environment to program it. Their goal is to provide a cost-effective learning tool that will teach people of all ages how to code.

Extended Discussion Questions

  • The article quotes a professor from Tuft University who is concerned that a single robot cannot universally teach all age groups. How are the creators of Root attempting to overcome that issue?
  • Think about what your elementary school taught you about computers and coding.
    • How is Root different?
    • Do you think if students in that school now had something like Root, more of them would end up taking a class like this in high school? Why or why not?
  • The head of the project mentions that social and economic gaps can inhibit schools from introducing coding to students.
    • How could Root, a relatively inexpensive teaching tool, help bridge the social and economic gap?
    • In what ways might it still fall short? For example, what else do you need besides the robot? (Examples to aim at: Computers or tablets to program on, magnetic whiteboards, teachers trained in teaching programming; even $2000 a set can be too steep in some districts….)

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.2.1 Explain how computing has impacted innovations in other fields.
  • LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.4.1D Groups and individuals are affected by the “digital divide” — differing access to computing and the Internet based on socioeconomic or geographic characteristics.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 1 Creativity

Banner Image: “Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop”, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0

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