The Bestselling Kickstarter Board Game of All Time Teaches Your Kids Basic Programming Skills

The Bestselling Kickstarter Board Game of All Time Teaches Your Kids Basic Programming Skills

Today's children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to various problems for children - attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. Nevertheless, it seems that educational products are increasingly made for and found on computers, tablets and smart phones. This is why a table-top game for 3-8 year olds that teaches them the basics ofprogramming sounds pretty exciting.

The idea for Robot Turtles came to Dan Shapiro, a software programmer at Google, one morning as he was taking a shower. 

I pondered, why are kid games either pure luck (Candyland) or a frustrating exercise in trying to lose on purpose, without the child noticing (Tic-Tac-Toe). How old does a child need to be to learn to program? Do they even need to read? What’s something cool I can do with my kids this afternoon?

That same day he printed out some generic robot clip art, and told his 4-year-old twins that he had a new game for them to play. They started experimenting with the rules and the kids couldn’t get enough of it. Shapiro took a leave of absence and dedicated a whole summer to develop the game which subsequently became the most backed board game in Kickstarter’s history - three months after he started his campaign he had already shipped 25,000 copies to families in 65 different countries.

Kids don’t need to be able to read to play and only one person (the “Turtle Mover”) needs to read the rules. As the kids progress, they build their program up on the table by putting instruction cards down, driving the turtles through the maze. If they make a mistake, they can shout "Bug!" and debug it. One of the most fun parts is that the grownup serves the role of the computer, executing commands on the board. At its heart, Robot Turtles is a game about bossing around adults. Just like programming is about bossing around computers.

As the world seems to not be able to get enough of web startups, online games, and new apps, it is certainly refreshing to see a successful product that teaches kids valuable skills, and helps us spend more quality time with them rather than in front of the omnipresent Screen.

photo: flickr

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

A close up of Bathynomus raksasa

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
  • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
  • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Keep reading Show less

Is it ethical to pay people to get vaccinated?

It could lead to a massive uptake in those previously hesitant.

Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

A financial shot in the arm could be just what is needed for Americans unsure about vaccination.

Keep reading Show less

Every 27.5 million years, the Earth’s heart beats catastrophically

Geologists discover a rhythm to major geologic events.

Credit: desertsolitaire/Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • It appears that Earth has a geologic "pulse," with clusters of major events occurring every 27.5 million years.
  • Working with the most accurate dating methods available, the authors of the study constructed a new history of the last 260 million years.
  • Exactly why these cycles occur remains unknown, but there are some interesting theories.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Galactic wind from early universe detected

Researchers discovered a galactic wind from a supermassive black hole that sheds light on the evolution of galaxies.