Most Shared

First-graders are learning how to code, and it's easier than you think.

It's time to teach our kids to control their technology instead of the other way around.

First-graders are learning how to code, and it's easier than you think.

Becoming a parent changes your perspective on everything. Just ask dad and entrepreneur Vikas Gupta.

Gupta is a computer whiz whose company, Jambool, was acquired by Google in 2010; right around that time, he and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter, into the world. Needless to say, life was good for his family.

In an effort to celebrate life, Gupta and his wife left their jobs to travel around Europe and show their baby girl the beauty of the world.


Gupta enjoyed daddy-daughter bonding, but he felt he could do more to help children all over the world. All photos from Wonder Workshop and used with permission.

But as Gupta looked into his daughter's eyes, he couldn't help but wonder what would come next. Traveling the world wouldn't last forever, yet he cherished that time with his daughter.

"I realized that I wasn't ready to give up these bonding moments easily," Gupta told Upworthy. "Whatever I did next needed to mean something and make a positive difference in the world."

It was time for him to go back to work, and in doing so, he would introduce kids to something he loves deeply: coding.

It's no secret that Gupta believes learning technology is essential, but his real aha moment came when he noticed what other countries are doing to help young children embrace the tech world.

And no, "embracing the tech world" doesn't mean having a kid glued to a tablet for hours on end playing Angry Birds.

Get off that iPad, kid!

It's about teaching our kids to control the technology they use, not the other way around.

For example, the tiny country of Estonia teaches their first-grade students how to code. In contrast, Gupta noticed that 90% of high schools in the U.S. do not offer computer science classes. It doesn't take a computer genius to realize that elementary schools in the U.S. probably aren't teaching computer science either.

"I wanted to find the solution that will engage young kids and be an effective tool for them to learn to code on their own," Gupta said.

His solution? Robots. Adorable but highly intelligent robots.

Gupta created a company called Wonder Workshop that uses robotics to teach code in a way that a first-grader can understand.

Meet the two stars of the show.

Dash is a robot that kids can program to dance, race, and have a variety of adventures with by using simple drag-and-drop tablet interfaces on Wonder Workshop's free apps.

It comes preprogrammed with a variety of different sounds (kids can record their own sounds, too), and it can detect and identify the sound of someone's voice.

Be warned, parents. In some cases kids will use their coding skills to help Dash pull pranks on grown-ups. But, hey — at least they're learning some useful, right?

Gotcha, Mom! GIF via Wonder Workshop/YouTube.

Dot, the little blue ball on top, acts as the "brain" of the robot. Kids can code it to play over 100 different games using the app.

Meet Dot, the tiny blue robot.

Hot potato is one of many examples.

GIF via Wonder Workshop/YouTube.

Think of Dot as the entry-level course to robotics and coding.

"Not only are the bots designed to grow and learn with their child user, but the kids themselves can code their own programs and customize their bots with their own unique personalities," Gupta said.

But what makes Dash and Dot cool and revolutionary?

"They solve a problem that most parents, kids, and teachers face," Gupta said. "They keep children engaged in computer science without making it boring, tedious, and complicated."

Most importantly, they solve the problem by not being gender or age specific. Boys and girls love the robots. Same with teenagers and toddlers. It's pretty rare to find a toy that checks all of those boxes while being educational at the same time.

Wonder Workshop even caught the attention of Melinda Gates who recently called Dash "the most fun way to foster coding skills through robotics."

Melinda's husband, Bill, backed her up, too.


That's high praise.

It's just the kind of difference Gupta imagined when he thought about doing something that would affect the world and help kids like his young daughter.

In fact, Melinda Gates said the most meaningful gift she ever received was an Apple III computer from her dad when she was in high school because it fostered a love of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Gupta hopes he will inspire young children with Dash and Dot as well.

It definitely looks like he's on the right track.

Check out the Wonder Workshop video below.


True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

How we talk about Black Lives Matter protests across America is often a reflection of how we personally feel about the fight for racial equality itself. We're all biased toward our own preferences and a fractured news media hasn't helped things by skewing facts, emphasizing preferred narratives and neglecting important stories, oftentimes out of fear that they might alienate their increasingly partisan and entrenched audiences.

This has been painfully clear in how we report on and talk about the protests themselves. Are they organized by Antifa and angry mobs of BLM renegades hell bent on the destruction of everything wholesome about America? Or, are they entirely peaceful demonstrations in which only the law enforcement officers are the bad actors? The uncomfortable truth is that both extreme narratives ignore key facts. The overwhelming majority of protests have been peaceful.protests have been peaceful. The facts there are clear. And the police have also provoked acts of aggression against peaceful demonstrators, leading to injuries and unnecessary arrests. Yet, there have been glaring exceptions of vandalism, intimidation and violence in cities like Portland, Seattle, and most recently, Louisville. And while some go so far as to quite literally defend looting, that's a view far outside the mainstream of nearly all Americans across various age, racial and cultural demographics.

But what if we step away from the larger philosophical debate and narrow things down to one very important fact: the vast majority of those stirring division at protests are white.

And if you don't believe me, just listen to Durham, North Carolina's mayor and what he had to say about how white people are "hijacking" Breonna Taylor's legacy and transforming a movement that has suddenly split Americans after having near unanimous support just a few months ago.


Keep Reading Show less