Robots Dash and Dot Teach Programming to Kids


Dash and Dot, a pair of robots by Wonder Workshop, want to make computer science learning more appealing and interactive for young learners. Through quizzes and activities — and without any books — Dash and Dot redefine experiential learning.

Dash and Dot are two interactive robots developed by Wonder Workshop, the founder of which is former Google employee Vikas Gupta. Dash and Dot combine computer science and robotics to teach children basic programming concepts. The robots come with an app through which the user navigates and controls the robot behaviors.

The user can turn Dash into a xylophone, a launching machine or even use LEGO to create something new out of the robot. The learner can also compose and play a tune or catapult balls through its launching device.

“Dot is the brains of a robot,” Wonder Workshop explains on its official site.

The user can use Wonder and Blockly to see how Dot games are developed and even design their own games. Dot can talk, blink and make sounds, but doesn’t move. John Brownlee of Fast Company described the main difference between Dash and Dot:

“Dash, meanwhile, is the autonomous version of Dot. Costing $149.99, he’s got wheels that allow him to get around by himself, allowing kids to learn how to program a robot to move.”

Depending on the age and computer skills of the user, Dash and Dot can be used with different apps. Blockly and Wonder, for instance, offer more advanced play options and are for children over eight years old. Wonder features picture-based coding through which the user can create a behavior for Dash.

Blockly is aimed at slightly more advanced 8-year-olds or older children and teaches about events, conditionals, and other coding principles through projects and puzzles. Dash is compatible with the apps Xylo, Path, and Go.

No camp or books are needed. The user learns through puzzles and other hands-on activities. Through these games, Dash and Dot engage children in a programming discovery journey. With each level, the user delves into more advanced programming concepts. They learn how Dash and Dot interact with each other and how one can respond to the other after a certain task has been completed.

The idea for Dash and Dot came from the evident lack of computer skills and culture in the US, Gupta told Inc’s Will Yakowicz:

“High school kids in Vietnam were cracking Google interview questions because of the focus on STEM. But the U.S. is so behind, [which] became the motivation for me to help change” things.

Through Kickstarter, Gupta raised $1.5 million to make Dash and Dot a reality.

The two robots are unlike most other on the market, many of which can be complicated. Dash and Dot are fun and easy to interact with, reports Quartz.

“We were constantly at work to make robots come to life in the hands of a child,” Gupta says. “We wanted to create an experience that feels both intuitive and magical.”

So far, thousands of students in hundreds of elementary schools in the country are using Dash and Dot as an introduction to robotics and programming.