Tag Archives: Made with Code

Project Bloks: Making code physical for kids

When we were kids, physical things like toys and blocks helped us learn—inspiring curiosity and imagination in a fun, playful way. We think there’s no reason that shouldn’t also be possible when it comes to Computer Science.

When kids learn to code, they’re not just learning how to program computers, they’re learning a new language for creative expression and developing computational thinking: a skillset that will help prepare them to solve all kinds of problems. Making code physical — known as tangible programming — offers a unique way to combine the way children innately play and learn with computational thinking.

Earlier this week we announced a new research initiative called Project Bloks. The project is a collaboration between Google, IDEO and Stanford’s Paulo Blikstein, inspired by — and building upon — a long history of educational theory and research in the field of tangible programming.

The ultimate goal of Project Bloks is to create an open hardware platform for physical programming experiences to help kids develop computational thinking through play. By creating an open platform, Project Bloks will allow designers, developers and researchers to focus on innovating, experimenting and creating new ways to help kids develop computational thinking. Our vision is that, one day, the Project Bloks platform could become for tangible programming what Blockly is for on-screen programming.

As a first step, we’ve created a system for physical programming and built a working prototype with it. We’re sharing our progress before conducting more research over the summer to inform what comes next.

Want to get involved?
We are currently looking for participants (educators, developers, parents and researchers) from across the globe who are interested in helping shape the future of Computer Science education by remotely taking part in our research studies later in the year. If you would like to be part of our research study or simply receive updates on the project, please sign up here.

For more detailed information about the technology behind Project Bloks, check out our recent post on the Google Research Blog and our position paper. And to learn more about our other initiatives aimed at driving CS education forward and helping kids develop computational thinking skills, check out programs like CS First and Made with Code; and tools like Coding with ChromeBlockly and Pencil Code.

Inspiring tomorrow’s coders at I/O Youth and beyond

Google I/O is all about bringing creative coders together to imagine what’s next. And who better to build for the future than kids, the developers of tomorrow. That’s why we launched I/O Youth - inspiring kids to imagine, invent, and explore through the power of technology.

Today, we’ll celebrate the third anniversary of I/O Youth by hosting 120 students from Bay Area schools at Google I/O. Over the course of the day, kids and their teachers will be inspired by hands-on activities like designing a custom robotic monster and 3D car, bringing them to life using the power of code, directing a digital cartoon, and creating a personalized water bottle design through Made with Code.

Over the course of the day, kids will hear from speakers who use technology to do amazing things every day - like Ryan Germick, head of the Google Doodles team, who’ll talk about the beauty of art and technology coming together; Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus, who’ll take them on a virtual field trip to his workshop, and Anika Cheerla, 13-year old Google Science Fair finalist who built a way to accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease, who’ll share how she discovered her love for science. They’ll also get to hear about how technology helps to bring some of their favorite things to life from a producer of Design Squad Global by PBS Kids and WGBH, a Nickelodeon creator, and a Pokémon game designer.

We’re also excited to announce our collaboration with Scratch, enabling developers to design creative coding and learning experiences for kids. Today we take the first step in this collaboration with the release of an early developer preview of Scratch Blocks code. We hope that developers will use Scratch Blocks to create consistent, high-quality programming experiences for kids everywhere.
At I/O Youth, students will get early access to a prototype built with Scratch Blocks
I/O Youth is just one of many ways we’re focused on helping young people to imagine, invent, and explore through the power of technology. Beyond today’s event, we also have year-round programs to help inspire and train our engineers of the future, including:

Google Science Fair - an international competition inspiring teenagers from all over the globe to ask questions about their world and solve them with science. The deadline to submit projects for this year’s competition is today, so stay tuned to see who will win!

Made with Code - our initiative to inspire millions of girls to learn code, and see coding as a means to pursue their dream careers.

CS First - increasing elementary and middle school students’ access and exposure to Computer Science with a focus on girls and underrepresented minorities.

If you’re not joining us at Shoreline Amphitheater for I/O Youth today, follow along on Twitter at #io16 and #ioyouth as we share updates along the way. Here's to celebrating and inspiring our future engineers today, and every day.

Code Your Heart Out: A Valentine’s Day #CodedWithLove

Locker decorations. Teddy bears. Cupid Cards. For teens, Valentine’s Day can be a fun holiday, but it can also sometimes be an isolating and a shallow portrayal of love (source). We know love is about so much more than crushes and candy, so Google’s Made with Code initiative is teaming up with teen girls across the U.S. to reframe Valentine’s Day around the types of love that can bring the world closer together.

Today, Made with Code is launching its newest coding project, #CodedWithLove, inviting students to make their mark on Valentine’s Day by coding a unique digital heart with millions of possible combinations, and sharing a message expressing what love means to them. The project is available at www.madewithcode.com/projects/CodedwithLove for all students and educators—no prior experience required.

Also launching today are five new Made with Code role models who are using computer programming to put more love out into their communities. These inspiring young women and brilliant minds are perfect examples of how community change and problem solving can make a positive impact.

The coding rockstars being celebrated today are inventors behind Instakarma, Parihug, PraisePop, Spectrum, and We Read Too. Learn more about their causes to bring the world closer together with code:

Looking for volunteering opportunities for students can be practically impossible because a lot of sites don’t cater to that age group, even though giving back has been shown to lower stress lives, improve moods and boost self-esteems (source). So Meera, Shreya and Lori created InstaKarma, an app where volunteers can search for opportunities to help in their local communities with everything from small tasks to official community service events. Their advice to their peers is simple, “Just go for it. If you see a problem in the world around you, build an app to fix it.”
What if technology could add a dose of humanity back into connections? That’s what two young women, Harshita and Xyla (pictured), wanted to accomplish when they created Parihug, a Wi-Fi enabled teddy bear that lets users send a virtual long-distance hug. When one bear is hugged, a signal is sent to its mate— activating soft, fabric-based, sensors, and sending a hug across thousands of miles. They have this advice to other teen girls getting into this field: “Combine technology with other things that you love! If you love drawing, bring your art to life with animation. If you love gaming, try building a videogame from scratch. If you love explosions, safely give yourself a capacitor fireworks show and learn about circuits in the process. The best way to learn is through projects that you are passionate about,” says Xyla.
After surveying their high school, friends Sloane, Jenny, Moe and Qiqi learned that only 11 percent of peer responders thought that their school was a “very kind community.” So, they set out to change that by building a mobile app to create a way for people to recognize each other, brighten each other's days, and see positivity all around them. The best part of being app creators so far? “It’s not about the number of likes. It’s about the joy you bring to someone else’s life,” says Jenny.
Inspired by the lack of safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community to communicate on the Internet, five programmers from San Diego created Spectrum, an app that provides a social media network for the LGBTQIA+ community looking for a safe support system. When these friends came together to start building, they didn’t want to make just another app. They wanted to create something that would be able to reach out to youth who are struggling and make a true difference in their lives.

We Read Too
Kaya’s been in love with reading since a very young age, but she found herself consistently disappointed with the lack of books on display featuring diverse characters and writers that were relatable to her. She realized that if she wanted to see positive change, she’d need to take the first step. That’s why Kaya put her technology skills to work by creating We Read Too, an app that makes it much easier for people of color to find books about and written by people of color. “Knowledge is power and coding is an outlet to create technology that makes positive impacts on communities,” affirms Kaya.
These young women are just a few examples of leaders in the Made with Code community and our partner organizations, like Technovation, Code.org, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology, who are changing the world for the better.

Google’s Made with Code initiative is focused on inspiring teen girls to try coding and to see it as a means to pursue their dream careers. Today, we hope you will join us in celebrating people who are using code to make an impact in the world by spreading love and positivity, and encourage the students in your life to take their first step with code.

Love is what we make it. If we work together, we can transform Valentine’s Day into something greater than ourselves. Join us in celebrating at #CodedWithLove.

#CSforAll: expanding computer science to all students

We believe it's important that all students have the opportunity to be creators—not just consumers—of technology. The study of computer science (CS) develops critical thinking skills, the kind that help solve complex problems and drive innovation, and opens doors for a variety of careers that integrate technology. That’s why we’re thrilled to be part of President Obama’s announcement this morning to expand CS to all students, especially those from underrepresented communities.

Today, alongside the President’s announcement, Google is committing to an additional investment of $23.5 million in 2016 to support K-12 CS education, with the aim to reach an additional 5 million students through our programs.

Our research shows that 9 in 10 parents want their child to learn CS but unfortunately schools face many barriers to offering CS in the classroom. Principals and superintendents say that they don’t have have enough time in the school day to have a dedicated CS class, and many schools aren’t able to find trained CS teachers. We applaud the White House, and the growing number of advocates, educators and companies across the country working to address these and other barriers.
We know we have to work together to overcome these challenges and we invite you to learn more about our programs and even more importantly, to join our efforts! Bring CS First to your school, encourage high school girls to try coding with Made with Code, or simply be part of the conversation about expanding access to CS in your community. Read more about some of our 2016 initiatives below that are part of today’s White House announcement, and roll up your sleeves, we’re right there with you!

  • CS First gives students ages 9-14 a chance to express themselves with code through projects focused on interest areas like sports, fashion, music, and more. No tech experience is needed to facilitate the program and materials are free. Over 250,000 students have experienced programming through CS First, and more are joining every day!
  • Made with Code inspires millions of girls to learn to code and to see computer science as a means to pursue their dream careers through introductory coding projects, profiles of women mentors using coding in diverse job paths, and a community of partners and nonprofits helping to sustain girls’ interest along their coding journey.
  • Google Summer of Code is a global online program offering student developers ages 18+ stipends & mentorship for open source coding projects. 
  • For computer science teachers, CS4HS is an annual program that improves the CS educational ecosystem by providing funding for the design and delivery of professional development. CS4HS supports teachers to learn and master new technical content and teach in more innovative and engaging ways.
  • We support non-profit organizations such as Code.org, through Google.org, Google Fiber, and our RISE Awards which are grants for organizations working to inspire the next generation of computer scientists, especially those that reach girls, underrepresented minorities, and students who face socio-economic barriers.
  • To dispel stereotypes, we’re working with Hollywood studios, writers and advocacy groups to showcase positive portrayals of girls, women, and underrepresented minorities in tech. 

Mindy Kaling at our kickoff Made with Code event in New York, June 2014
And while important work is getting done on the ground, we’re also helping to inform the field about the barriers to access CS education in our formal education system. Our computer science education research with Gallup helped us gain a deeper understanding of how administrators, teachers, parents and students perceive CS and the main challenges that high schools face in providing CS courses. This research will continue as a three year study so we can see how we are progressing over time. We’re excited that President Obama is elevating CS education as a vital, national issue and look forward to building on the momentum of #CS4All to bring CS learning opportunities to all students.

Happy New Year from Google for Education

Editor's note: As we embark on this new year, we wanted to share a letter we sent to our Google for Education customers in North America celebrating the great work of 2015. Thanks to our entire education community for making 2015 such a strong year. We look forward to what we can do together in 2016 for educators and the world’s future inventors and changemakers.

Dear Google for Education Friends and Family,

What a year we’ve shared. First: thank you to the extraordinary teachers, students, administrators and others who make Google for Education strong. We couldn’t do it without you. In 2015 you activated 30,000 Chromebooks every school day  more than all other education devices combined  and you helped us grow to more than 50 million using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and 10 million using Classroom.

As educators, you put Chromebooks in the hands of 90,000 students in Charlotte and 84,000 students in Chicago; you moved the entire Montgomery County, Maryland school district to GAFE and Classroom; you improved young learners performance by 19 percent with the support of Google devices at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy in the UK; and you brought science education to rural Australia using Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and GAFE at John Monash Science School.

And we’re just getting started: here at Google we’re committed to bringing the best of technology to education. We’re investing heavily in Chromebooks and you can expect to see many new Chromebooks created for you in education. You’ll also see new management features for administrators and pioneering Chrome tools like this year’s Share to Classroom extension. And we’ll continue to bring Google innovations to the classroom as we did in September with the Expeditions Pioneer Program  already more than 100,000 students have taken virtual field trips to places like the Great Wall of China and Chichen Itza using Google Cardboard and a phone.

Giving back to education is important to us. Along with offering the GAFE suite and unlimited Drive storage at no cost to schools. This year we contributed more than $50 million, including more than $14M to education nonprofits, $1.3M in scholarships and $21.7M funding new research. With programs like Google Science Fair, Made with Code, CS First and Doodle4Google, we’re working to inspire and encourage young people to solve tomorrow’s problems through curiosity, creativity and code.

Thank you so, so much. Your support in 2015 was an inspiration to us. We wish you a Happy New Year, and we hope to continue to do great things together in 2016.

Hiroshi Lockheimer
Senior Vice President for Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast

Take a look through our Google for Education 2015 Year in Review.

Stay in touch in 2016 at google.com/edu with our blog, Google+, Twitter or a Google Educator Group.

Computer Science tips for parents

(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

Editor's note: Parents are champions and changemakers in education. During this CSEdWeek, here are a few easy steps to dispel CS stereotypes and encourage all students to explore the power of code. If you or your students are ready to try an hour of code, get started now with High Seas and Inside Out.

As I waited for my first grader, Gabriel, to come out of his after school care classroom, I powered up LightBot, a mobile game designed to introduce programming principles to kids, for his younger brother Zeke to play. After a few taps to maneuver the robot to light up the final square, Zeke clapped his hands and as he looked up with a big smile on his face, he saw that a captivated audience of first graders had crowded around him, eager to get a turn at the game. This unplanned demo led by my youngest son made me wonder if the parents of Gabriel’s classmates were introducing them to games based in computational thinking and computer science, they certainly seemed eager to learn more.

Computer Science Education Week, an annual week of programs dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science, is a perfect opportunity for parents to get engaged. While not every student will become a computer scientist, a baseline understanding of computer science can help develop better thinkers and more informed users of technology. Unfortunately 75% of high schools in the US don't offer classes in computer science or coding and by 2020, there could be 1 million more computing jobs than there are students to fill them. This is a missed opportunity for our students and our nation.

I feel incredibly lucky that my job at Google is to run a team where the mission is to solve this challenge. We’re conducting research that looks at who does and doesn’t have access to computers and coding classes and what drives students, especially those underrepresented in the tech industry, to go into computer science in the first place. We’re also working to create ways for more students to have access and exposure to computer science opportunities outside the classroom. The challenges above can't be solved easily but they can be tackled with action from parents that's focused on encouragement and exposure-- things that parents know how to do well.

If you’re not sure where to begin, I’ve answered some of the most common questions we hear from parents below. And don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in computer science to get involved!

What is computer science anyway? Google’s research has found that more than half of parents, teachers, and principals have trouble defining computer science. Let’s clear this up. Computer science is building the machines, developing the set of instructions that tell the machines what to do and how all of this applies to solving world problems. (ACM/CSTA Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science)

Is computer science only for “nerds”? Absolutely not! It’s our job as parents to help debunk this myth, but that's tricky when many students have the impression that computer scientists are super nerdy men with glasses. At Google we’re doing our part by advocating for positive and diverse images of computer science on screen. Recent examples of our work with Hollywood include Loretta from Miles from Tomorrowland on Disney Junior and Mariana from ABC Family’s The Fosters. We need to ensure that our kids are exposed to positive role models both on- and off-screen. Made with Code is an initiative to inspire girls to see that code can help them pursue their passions by highlighting diverse role models as mentors who have integrated coding into their lives in fun and creative ways.

Computer science classes aren’t offered at my child’s school. Where can I find CS-related clubs or activities? Lots of activities are vying for our kids’ attention. As parents, we need not only to find opportunities, but to prioritize the ones that work with our student’s learning styles. Ideally, all schools would offer computer science to all students, but that’s easier said than done. We’ve learned that 85% of parents believe that computer science is as important as math, history, or English. Yet only 25% of schools offer computer science. To close the gap, parents need alternative computer science learning resources outside of school.
There are now a host of introductory and free programs for elementary school students including Google’s High Seas and Inside Out Hour of Code activities, which are one-hour introductions to computer science designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. There’s also CS Unplugged which doesn’t even require access to technology. If your student is in middle school or high school, you can find programs through The Connectory, including Google’s free CS First program, which helps any adult - a teacher, parent, or coach - facilitate a coding club. Hopefully with more options and lower barriers to entry, parents will have the flexibility to choose the right computer science learning opportunity for their families.

What can I do to encourage my student Ensuring that your kids have access to computer science education, however, is just half the battle. You also have a critical role when it comes to encouraging your kids. For some parents it might be learning alongside your kids or driving them to coding events. While for others it may be helping to critique a science fair project like Hania Guiagoussou’s father who pushed her to focus on ideas that would have a social impact. Hania went on to become the youngest recipient of Oracle’s 2015 Duke’s Choice Award, which celebrates innovation in the use of Java technology, for her WaterSaver project that helps consumers control and monitor their water use.

What happens when the projects become harder and the problem sets start to require more effort? In NCWIT’s Top 10 Ways Families Can Encourage Girls’ Interest in Computing, one of the recommendations when the going gets tough is to help our students have a growth mindset. As Carol Dweck writes in her book Mindset, “if parents want to give their kid a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their kid to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

With each exposure to fun learning opportunities that integrate computer science principles, both of my sons Gabriel and Zeke are starting down a path to be creators as well as more educated consumers of technology. My hope is that all parents will understand the critical role that they play in shaping their students’ mindset for lifelong learning and see the power of computer science to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.