ISTE 2017: Wonder Workshop Is Teaching Kids To Code With Dot & Dash
Wonder Workshop is on our 9 year old edtech reporters list of must see companies at ISTE 2017, here’s why:
When I was in elementary school I remember that old circular box of Lincoln Logs sitting in the back of the room that nobody played with. Those Lincoln Logs probably felt like Woody did in the first Toy Story movie. Sure they were fun to play with, but teacher’s never took the effort into turning Lincoln Logs into a lesson. STEM and STEAM were decades away from becoming relevant. When you think about it, there are probably a handful of toys from the 80’s and 90’s that could have been incorporated into education, but alas I digress.
When Vikas Gupta, Saurabh Gupta and Mika Greaves came up with the idea for their company in 2012 they wanted to created a way to teach kids how to code in “kid speak”. To do this, they needed robots. They started with the robot pictured below, a kit robot that looks like it was put together in their garage. The robot could be programmed by adding different blocks to it. They went back to the drawing board.
“We wanted our product to have a low floor but a high ceiling. We knew that concepts are more concrete to kids when they are expressed in a tangible, real-world way” the company says.
The trio spent lots of times in kids homes learning what kids wanted in a robot. The original design looked too much like a car and girls didn’t like that. So the team went back to the drawing board, eventually shedding the wheels, and adding the eye. They were in business. They took what we know today as Dash and Dot to crowdfunding, selling $1.4M dollars worth of robots. Now they had the hardware, the teaching part, came next.
The edtech startup first started they went by the name Play-i, now everyone knows them as Wonder Workshop. They’ve taken Dot and Dash, and created free apps for smartphones, and tablets. The app allows kids to program Dot and Dash to do all kinds of things.
“kids learn to code while they make Dash sing, dance and navigate all around the house. Sensors on the robot mean they react to the environment around them,” they say on their website.
Parents can buy Dot and Dash directly from the Wonder Workshops website. Teachers, schools and districts can also buy direct from the company. In fact nearly 10,000 schools across the country are using Dot & Dash to teach kids to code. Coding isn’t just the biggest job of the future, it also helps teach kids valuable STEM and STEAM initiatives, and other skills like critical thinking.
As kids play and learn with Dot & Dash they can join a community of like minded kids called Wonder League. Here kids can solve new challenges, show off their code, and see what kids around the world are doing with their own Dot & Dash. Wonder Workshop also does contests for great prizes like Dot & Dash accessories.
Wonder Workshop isn’t just wowing kids and teachers. The company is one of the most funded code based edtech startups in the country. They’ve raised $35.9 million dollars to date, in 4 rounds. Their most recent raise was $20m in 2016.
You can learn more about Wonder Workshop and meet Dot and Dash at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio June 25th-28th at booth #2844 and online at makewonder.com