Even though we live in an increasingly digitalized world, programming is not yet available as a subject in the Swedish school. Sweden has relatively good access to computers and the Internet, yet we already lag behind in terms of knowledge when it comes to programming. Coding is a universal language, its possibilities only limited by the next generation of programmers. The purpose of this project was to design a concept to make it easier to introduce coding to children. It's about educating children in problem solving, to make them understand the time they grow up in, to encourage them to see programming not as technical, boring and complicated, but as a tool to express themselves, play and experiment with. The final result is a proposal on how to introduce coding and programming to children in primary schools in a simple, analogous manner, without the need for computers or tablets.
Inspiration and Method
“How one programmer broke the Internet by deleting a tiny piece of code” - quartz.com
This headline describes how vulnerable the digital world, and hence we all, are to competent and correct coding. Necessary light is shed on the extent to which today's world depends on a group of programmers, or coding experts. To me, it is obvious that even though not everyone can be an expert, it is crucial for our understanding of how the world works, and even for democracy, that we all have at least have some insight in the way technology works.
I wanted to create a concept that gives students and teachers a basic understanding on what programming really is. After talking to children, teachers and experts as well as observing them in their context, I came to the conclusion that teachers today have no proven methods nor materials to teach programming, all responsibility for teaching programming lay solely on the teachers and their dedication to the subject. The goal of the concept is for it to be an introduction to programming and coding, giving the students the right basic tools for further education within programming, but also for them to gradually discover the possibilities with coding.
The result is the concept 'Frodi'. Frodi is a tiny programmable robot that you program with physical blocks, similar to traditional ABC-blocks. When placed in the right order, or syntax, the blocks combined together creates lines of code, telling Frodi how to behave. Each block has four commands giving you the possibility to freely play and explore the different commands and what Frodi can do. Besides being a toy, it is an instrument that encourages experimentation and tests problem solving skills in order to increase the understanding of how the technology around us behaves and communicates. Most importantly, Frodi teaches us that technology is controlled by us humans and that we can use it as a creative tool.