CodeAttach: Learning to Code Through Physical Play

Learning to code is typically an individual and sedentary activity and most existing coding kits task children with moving a robot/character around a space (Yu & Roque, 2018). How can we expand the ways how children can engage in computational learning and make the experience more active and social? Physical play shows great potential because (1) physical play is an essential part of children’ development and can bring many benefits, such as building strength, increasing social interactions with peers and family, even improving academic outcomes (Anderson-McNamee, J.K. & Bailey, 2010; Lindsey & Colwell, 2013; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018); (2) certain physical activities involve systematic thinking, problem-solving, and rule-making/following, which shares similar spirit with coding; (3) some physical activities, if appropriately designed, can welcome young females to participate in STEM play. In this project, we develop CodeAttach, a learning kit designed to engage young children in computational thinking through physical play activities. CodeAttach consists of three parts: (1) an interactive hardware device, (2) a mobile application to program the device, and (3) supporting materials for different play activities. With CodeAttach, children can attach the device to the supporting materials or other everyday objects to create their own props for physical play. The device offers different inputs and outputs and supports children to change the rules of existing physical activities or create new activities by programming this device.

Coding Command Design

  • Members: Junnan Yu, Clement Zheng, Mariana Tamashiro, Christopher Gonzalez-millan, Ricarose Roque
  • Keywords: Coding kit, young children, physical play
  • Publication:

    Yu, J., Zheng, C., Tamashiro, M., Gonzalez-millan, C. & Roque, R. (2020) CodeAttach: Engaging Young Children in Computational Thinking Through Physical Play Activities. In Fourteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI ’20), February 9–12, 2020, Sydney, NSW, Australia. (Work-in-progress)