Dash & Dot are MakeWonder’s way of using robotics to teach the young about programming. Dash is a small blue robot that can be programmed to play the xylophone, kick a ball, act like a dog and deliver messages — for instance, a prerecorded version of the “Happy Birthday” song. Its head, which spins around, has a single, Cyclops-like eye. Sometimes Dash emits a cheerful chime — a sign that it approves of its programmer’s actions.
The creators say that the human qualities of the robot make Dash “more like a friend or a companion” than an object — and therefore more likely to appeal to its programmers, meant to be children as young as 5. The Dash & Dot project was created by parents who were frustrated by a lack of opportunities for their children to learn programming.
One of the creators of the programme, came up with the idea for an educational technology company in 2012 after he read an article about children in Estonia who were learning computer coding as part of the country’s first-grade curriculum. In his subsequent reading, he discovered research from Tufts University showing that children as young as 5 could learn to code if given tools appropriate for their age. That research, as it turns out, was conducted by someone who had come up with her own robot: Marina Umaschi Bers. Ms. Bers has been studying learning through technology since 1994 and has written two books on the subject.
Dash & Dot make the first steps towards learning a programming language fun and simple, if you would like to try out programming or coding through an app click on