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LEARNING HOW TO PROGRAM WITHOUT COMPUTERS

The children's skills in assembling objects and in building constructions with their hands is usually cultuvated from a young age through games that include pieces which are connected together e.g. cubes, bricks and other components which are particularly dear to parents and young children.

The idea of creating “Cubes Coding” was based on Dr. Theodosios Sapounidis’ PhD work, who holds a position as Special Laboratory Teaching Staff at the School of Philosophy and Education, Faculty of Philosophy of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and aimed to take advantage of children's familiarity with manipulating objects with their hands so that they may come into contact with principles of programming from their young age and without using computer.

Thus, in the framework of "Cubes Coding" children - users are invited to place the available cubes to an order to create a sequence of commands and parameters that refer to programming. By pressing a button, the sequence of orders from the interconnected cubes is executed by a robot that accompanies the activity.

Cubes Coding: Programming through gameplay with cubes

THE IDEA AND THE IMPLEMENTATION

Since there is not a lot of educational material appropriate to enable children from the age of 3-4 years of age to learn how to program, the implementation of this particular idea aimed to fill the gap and enable young students to learn principles of programming, by playing with friends. Thus, children instead of using traditional media, such as computers, mobile phones or tablets, have at their disposal a large collection of cubes.

The technology of the “Cubes Coding” relates to a pure graphic and a haptic system consisting of 44 cubes, which represent commands, parameters and in general programming constructs.

By using the system, children can fully control the direction and behavior of an NXT Lego Robot and at the same time create complicated programming sequences, such as control and repetition structures of four sensors (light, touch, measuring distance and sound). The parameters of the cubes are adapted to orders and change their operation. Finally, children can save in a special cube and reuse their code.

This particular idea and its implementation has emerged through distinctions in international competitions. It is an educational high-tech product, which has already attracted the interest of investment funds abroad in order to become a product and be available on the market. Next goal of the researcher is for the utilization of smart physical objects to be extended to learning other sciences, such as mathematics, astronomy and physics.

International Award




- Award in the International competition "Open Education Challenge". The contest began in February 2014 with the support of the European Commission and with the participation of 611 proposals from 77 countries. The competition theme was "Innovation in Education". The 18 finalists have presented their ideas and their business proposals to a committee of academics, entrepreneurs and investment fund managers. The committee ranked the AUTH team among the nine best participants of the contest. Each of the nine teams won a cash prize of EUR 20,000 and the opportunity to travel within 12 weeks in Helsinki, Paris, Berlin and London to present and promote their idea.

- 2nd place in the "Neo Ubimedia MindTrek Awards 2014" competition with the participation of 34 proposals (mainly from Universities) and the subject was “innovations relevant to the ubiquitous computing approach in digital media".

- The system is going to registered with international patent, with the support of AUTH.

ARISTOTLE UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI

Dr. Sapounidis Theodosios, (PhD of the School of Informatics AUTH / Special Laboratory Teaching Staff, School of Philosophy and Education, AUTH), Anastasios Tsimplinas (Msc. Electronic engineer), Dr. Danai Skournetou (PhD, Tampere University of Technology).

http://cubescoding.com