"Can a wall-climbing robot teach your kid to code?
Last month, a few hand-sized, hexagonal robots took over a third-grade
classroom in Southborough, Massachusetts. They climbed a whiteboard and
drew all over it while flashing multicolored LEDs and chirping
musically. All the while, they were teaching kids to code.
Meet Root — a robot being beta-tested by its creators at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The Wyss team hopes Root will soon roll into the gap
between the growing enthusiasm for K-12 computer science and the lack
of qualified teachers. With Root’s help, they claim, any teacher can
become a computer
“Root’s job is to celebrate the code you create by bringing it to life,” said Justin Werfel, a senior research scientist at Wyss. Root magnetically clings to whiteboards (most of which are metal-backed) where it acts out programs that students compose on iPads that are wirelessly linked to the robot.
Unlike other educational robots — such as Bee-Bots, Dash & Dot, and Lego Mindstorms — that are geared to a specific age range, Root is meant to span from pre-kindergarten to college. With black sides and a plain white top crossed with LEDs, Root is deliberately un-cuddly and unadorned — a highly functional, sensor-packed box that can draw with a marker inserted in its middle.