Block Coding for Kids: What Is It?


In an increasingly digital world, learning programming gives kids vital skills, but typical text-based programming languages can be difficult for individuals of all ages. Block-based coding may be the answer to a more progressive learning curve. It’s not only entertaining to learn, but it’s also a solid basis for learning other programming languages.

What Is Block-Based Coding and How Does It Work?

The steep learning curve of a text-based programming language prompted MIT to create block-based coding, which has since become the de facto method of teaching children to code. Block-based coding is a visual learning environment in which the editor’s physical blocks represent code blocks.

Two children program their Sphero BOLT programmable robots using block coding on a tablet and smartphone.

Block-based coding allows children to understand programming fundamentals without having to master the ins and outs of grammar. They can develop workable programs one step at a time by dragging and dropping interconnected components. Once they’ve grasped the fundamentals of programming, they can go on to a text-based language like JavaScript, armed with the foundational knowledge they’ll need to advance swiftly.

What Can Blocks Be Used For?

Students can use a large collection of blocks to construct software using block-based coding platforms. Each block is fashioned like a jigsaw piece and fits together rationally. To create workable software, developers use a drag-and-drop visual programming environment to connect blocks. Here are some potential roadblocks:

Blocks to Movement

Movement blocks can be used to control the movement of robots and devices by telling them how far to move and where to turn.

Sensory Building Blocks

Sensor blocks can be used to connect to the sensors of a robot or gadget. The data from the sensors can be used to determine logic once they are connected. You can, for example, activate motions around an object detected by a sensor in the robot’s route.

Sound Barriers

Sound blocks connect to a device’s speakers and let you play sounds or convert text to speech before playing it back.

You can use many more types of blocks to make a complete program. Here are a few examples:

  • Devices’ LEDs are controlled by light.
  • Conditional logic is handled by the controls (if this, then that).
  • Operators are mathematical functions that can be used to create or change numerical values.
  • Comparators compare two values and allow conditional logic to be applied.
  • Controls the sending and receiving of infrared signals on devices.
  • Events: Conditional logic is embedded in reusable routines.
  • Variables: These are values that are used to limit the use of redundant logic.
  • Functions: Assists in the organization of any program complexity.

What Can Children Create Using Block-Based Coding?

Students can use their imagination to mix and match coding blocks to bring their inventions to life once they understand the principles of how they work.

With a robot as simple as the Sphero Mini, kids can learn the fundamentals of programming and robotics. They may create mazes, tunnels, and ramps, then utilize block-based coding to guide their bot through them while analyzing their code logic.

In the Sphero Edu app, a user programs their Sphero Mini through a maze using block coding for kids.

Students can choose the Sphero RVR for more complex block programming, as it comes with advanced sensors and can be expanded with third-party hardware. Kids may improve their block programming skills with a robot that can perceive the environment around them by using built-in sensors, which include a color sensor, light sensor, IR, magnetometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope.

Beginning programmers will be piqued by learning to program using visual syntax that interacts with real-world objects, and they will be inspired to build new projects of their own.

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Because the software runs almost everything and every firm is, at some level, a software company, it is beneficial for children to have some programming abilities in order to navigate the world and their future employment. By replacing the intricacy of text-based code with visual block-based code, block-based coding simplifies the learning process. Download the Sphero Edu app to get started learning block-based coding right away. Kids can begin by using the app’s Drive or Draw applications, then progress to Block coding, and finally to text coding in Javascript.