Mojobot: The World’s First Tangible Coding Robot and Board Game
Learning to code with a board game? Sounds too good to be true.
If you like board games and want to learn how to code, then Mojobot is for you.
It’s creators describe Mojobot as “the world’s first tangible coding robot and board game.” But what exactly is Mojobot and what was the motivation behind its creation?
I have always had an interest in coding education, and previously I wrote an overview of options for those interested in teaching their kids to code.
To find out, I recently spoke with Dr. Pooh Eamcharoenying, the head of Project Lab, an ed-tech and robotics start-up based in Bangkok, Thailand, and the outfit responsible for creating Mojobot.
The team conceived Mojobot with a worthwhile purpose in mind, and if you’re interested in knowing more, you can listen to my full interview below.
Pooh founded Project Lab in 2015 because he wanted to take advantage of his knowledge of coding and robotics (he has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, specializing in robotic systems) and use it for educational purposes. He spent many years working with schools and teaching children about the subject, and that experience is where the idea behind Mojobot stems from.
Pooh wanted to get younger children interested in coding and robotics. What better way than with an actual robot that kids can control by compiling commands with play pieces (just like simple coding)?
Mojobot’s primary purpose is to get kids interested in computer science and robotics and teach them a little more about it, but do so in a way that’s not boring and encourages group social interaction.
Everyone uses coding concepts in their everyday lives. For example, IF and THEN statements are things we all use without a second thought when making simple decisions. For example, if we have money, we buy lunch, and if not, we go hungry. Enabling kids to realize the same and control a cool-looking robot in the process is one way to get them interested in coding and robotics.
Don’t underestimate Mojobot either. That neat little cube packs a lot of features, including a proximity sensor, light sensor, sound sensor, a microphone, and more. That’s one of the reasons why kids can do so much with it, which is what the Project Lab team set out to achieve.
One of the best parts is that kids can see straight away whether the commands they issue work. Either Mojobot does as they expect or something else. This immediate verification is something that keeps kids interested.
Plus, there’s an element of competition too. For example, children can play against each other and complete missions/challenges. This interaction is another reason why Mojobot is so appealing.
One of the questions I asked Pooh was how tough is Mojobot? I pictured it being handled roughly by kids and ending up in pieces. Pooh is confident of the little robot’s durability — especially as Project Lab will be subjecting it to international safety and quality tests.
There’s also talk about the possibility of open-sourcing parts of Mojobot in the future. Especially to allow developers to build additional integration points and game components.
At the time of writing, Mojobot has secured just under $50k of its overall Kickstarter goal ($80,306). While that’s fantastic, the Mojobot Kickstarter project isn’t likely to meet its aims. If coding, robotics, and education is an area that interests you, or you like the sound of the Mojobot project, head over to the Kickstart page and let the team know that you’d still be interested in making Mojobot a reality.
Alternatively, if you find yourself in Bangkok, Pooh said he’d be happy to demo Mojobot to anyone who’s interested — take him up on this offer if you are in the area.