Wednesday, October 20, 2021

New tool demystifies coding for college students as Hawaiian lawmakers push IT to younger classrooms

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The first graders at Solomon Elementary School shouted and clapped as they jumped and then stomped on bright blue floor tiles that lit up, change color and make sounds.

“When can I play?” asked an impatient girl, Arianna, moments after taking a turn. “It’s like playing on the playing field.” Her classmate Dominick replied, “It’s fun, exciting and challenging!”

Square rugs, called Unruly Splats, may seem like sheer fun, but they introduce kids to computer coding at a basic level. Each durable square has a “splash” that looks like a paint splash. The tiles are connected wirelessly to a tablet or similar device on which they are programmed.

Children start by playing preloaded games with the Splats, then learn to modify the block code that programs them, and optionally they can create their own games.

The educational tool is being tested this spring at the Leilehua Complex of Wahiawa Public Schools, starting with three campuses. Grant Toyooka, a resource manager leading the effort, said Splats addresses multiple student needs, including social skills, exercise, and logical thinking.

The initiative comes as state legislators …

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