This Innovative Toy Teaches Toddlers How to Code before They Can Read or Write

An innovative wooden toy teaches children the basics of programming without the need for literacy or screen devices. 

We live in a world where learning the language of computers is becoming as important as learning the language of people. Educational institutions, however, are still struggling to find ways, on the one hand, to motivate children to take up the subject and, on the other, to teach it in an engaging and effective way.


To address this problem, Primo, a smart-toy maker, is introducing Cubetto — a wooden playset, specifically designed to teach children ages 3 to 7 the basics of programming without the need for literacy or screen devices. 

“We believe that coding is a new literacy, and should therefore be introduced and prioritised from an early age. Up until now, young children were excluded from learning coding as products required literacy, or worked with purely digital interfaces, none of them designed for really young children” says Filippo Yacob, CEO and co-founder of Primo.

The playset consists of several wooden parts, including a programming board and a robot. By arranging colorful blocks on the board in different sequences, kids learn how to control the direction and movement of the robot. Taking the educational experience a step further, Cubetto allows “young hackers” to take apart and reprogram the robot, giving them an understanding of how the toy works and of the connection between software and hardware.

“To children, it’s playtime, but what they play with are curriculum-mapped programming concepts like debugging, the queue, and recursions, all before they can read or write" explains Yacob.

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Cubetto has already been helping educators and parents introduce programming to thousands of kids in more than 800 schools and nurseries in 40+ countries. Currently, Primo is looking to raise £200k from investors on Crowdcube to help it scale and officially launch the product. 

--

Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest passion lies at the intersection of media and youth development. She is the co-founder of WishBOX Foundation, a Bulgarian NGO that helps high school students with their professional orientation by organizing events, courses, summer camps and developing digital media resources.

Photos: Primo

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less