#Asia Best way for kids to learn coding? “They need to feel like they’re playing a game”

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Wonder Workshop builds a robot that kids can control with codes, helping them learn coding in a fun way

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In the future, coding is considered to be one of the most important skills that a person needs to enter the workforce, apart from math and English. There is also a rising trend of governments pushing for coding to be taught in schools, starting from elementary level.

However, teachers find it frustrating to teach because children had difficulty responding to the subject.

“If you gamify it and making it very fun, it’s easier to teach coding,” says Brian Yang, Head of APAC, Wonder Workshop.

Stressing the need of kids for to feel as if they are playing games while also learning how to code, Wonder Workshop produces a toy robot called Dash and Dot that kids can control through a series of apps.

The apps work just like a remote control where kids aged six-and-up can type codes the way they play puzzles, solving over 300 challenges while commanding the robots to move forward, spin, and even play a musical instrument.

“It touches the basic concept of C++ language without having to feel like that,” Yang explains the apps.

Wonder Workshop is currently run by a team of over 30, with the majority of them based in the US. The company also has a Hong Kong office and is planning to set up another in Beijing.

In 2014, Wonder Workshop raised a Series A round led by Madrona Venture Group and CRV. Bright Success Capital, Maven Ventures Growth Labs, WI Harper Group, and founder Vikas Gupta himself also participated in the round.

Yang confirmed that the company is closing its Series B round and is planning to announce the detail by end of June.

Also Read: Why wait? Singapore’s Saturday Kids is teaching youngsters how to code

Wonder Workshop was founded by Vikas Gupta, Saurabh Gupta, and Mikal Greaves. The founding of the US-based startup was motivated by a father’s love and the wish for his child to learn what he had learned – and hopefully gain success from it.

“Vikas was a co-founder of a company which was acquired by Google, and he joined Google as head of consumer payments. He has a baby girl and was thinking [about] how coding has changed his life; he sees coding as a magic power and he wants his kid to have it,” explains Yang.

Vikas Gupta then reached out to the Co-founders and they first launched the product on Kickstarter in 2012. It managed to raise US$850,000 — in which Yang was one of the backers — and after a year of struggle, they managed to manufacture the products and ship it to customers.

Dash and Dot rose into fame especially after Melinda Gates named it as one of her favourite Christmas STEM gift for kids, among other awards.

Also Read: Secret tips for developing safe and secure Android apps

Wonder Workshop currently partners with 4,000 elementary and middle schools in the US.

Apart from creating a physical product, Wonder Workshop also aims to build a community of young coders by providing an online discussion forum for teachers and students, and hosting annual Wonder League Robotics Competition for students aged six to 12.

Last year, over 500 students signed up to participate in the event, which also includes tours to leading tech companies and institutions such as NASA, Google, and Pixar.

Though no detail of their Series B round is announced yet, Yang stated that it will be used mainly to fund their expansion plan to China and Southeast Asia, and eventually Europe.

The startup is also a supporter of New York-based charity programme Pencils of Promise. For every purchase of Dash and Dot, a percentage will be donated to provide funding and support for underprivileged schools in South Africa and India.

Want to meet the team behind Wonder Workshop? Get your Last Minute Tickets here and meet them at Echelon Asia Summit 2016!

Image Credit: Wonder Workshop

 

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