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Harvard's Root robot teaches kids how to code

In order to build new human children who can compete in tomorrow's post-work world, we must teach kids to code. Everyone agrees, even Obama. Unfortunately, coding is hard and often abstract. To that end, some researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute have built Root, a robot that "brings coding to life."

Root is an app-ified update of the classic Turtle robot design: a Roomba-shaped bot that follows simple programs to crawl around the floor, draw crazy patterns, and avoid obstacles. What Root adds to that classic formula is a plethora of sensors — including sound and color sensitivity, and your mobile device's own sensors. It's also based on the new Scratch-like Square programming environment that runs on an iPad and is designed to transition kids from drag-and-drop coding to classic text-based coding. Root can also cling to a vertical whiteboard and draw with a dry erase marker, making it perfect for classrooms.

Root is still a research project, so there's no info on when you can buy one for your own human child. Currently the researchers are working on a curriculum for Root and "seeking the right partners" to make Root a reality.