When I first heard the term “blockly” I thought I’d heard “broccoli” and I remembered a comment made by the first President Bush when he came under fire from the dietary fascists for reportedly banning broccoli from the White House:
What are people saying about CUBELETS, the new robotic teaching aid from start-up Modular Robotics (a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University, with funding from the National Science Foundation)? Time Magazine called them “one of the most interesting and accessible robots on the market today... a great way to teach kids about how robots work without actually having to solder or know anything about programming.”
Online magazine MakerShed, the magazine of do-it-yourself (DIY) digital projects, says “...we love Cubelets! These magnetic robot building blocks snap together and don’t require any programming, making it easy for anyone to build their own robotic creation. What could be more fun?”
Just when we thought it was safe to follow the old dictum ‘just let kids be kids,’ we stumbled over this latest research from the University of Chicago in the American Educational Research Journal which indicates that only four days per month of advanced math and reading content in Kindergarten leads to better test scores in the higher grades. This study will be difficult for parents eager to get their children off to the best start to ignore.
But don’t panic, ‘advanced math and reading content’ doesn’t mean algebra and James Joyce’s Ulysses. According to Amy Claessens, assistant professor of public policy at Chicago University's Harris School of Public Policy Studies and primary author of this study, ‘advanced’ in this context simply refers to the fact that 50% of kids arriving in Kindergarten have already mastered the basic content; advanced means providing content a majority of children have not as yet mastered.