Making coding fun – The Reaktor × LEGO® code school for kids

At Reaktor, we think coding is fun. We also think that coding is something everyone should be able to try. That’s why we’ve created the Reaktor × LEGO® code school to teach the principles of programming to kids aged 7–12 with the help of LEGO BOOST robots.

To make sure that kids get familiar with programming in a short amount of time, we redesigned the robot programming app from scratch to create a learning experience that is easy, effective, and – most importantly of all – fun.

Highlights

  • Our code school showcases how technology can connect the physical and digital realms in an easy to understand way
  • We were in charge of all phases including concept, branding, visual identity, UI, coding, and event planning
  • We re-designed the robot programming app to ensure a fun and pedagogical experience for kids
  • The first Reaktor × LEGO code school was launched at Helsinki-Vantaa airport on October 12th

Overview

In 2014, we launched the Reaktor code school to teach young kids that programming is not some difficult task meant only for experts (in fact, the very first student was only four years old).

Since then, hundreds of children have attended code schools all over the world – both held by Reaktor and by other companies inspired by us – and even the president of Finland has taken part.

But something great can always be made even better. That’s why we partnered with LEGO Group. LEGO Group’s mission is to inspire the builders of tomorrow through creative play, which made them the first choice for us to create a more exciting and hands-on experience for kids.

LEGO Group supplied us with the robots, but it was up to us to build the best teaching experience possible. With that in mind, we set about designing a super simple and easy-to-use app to teach kids the fundamentals of coding.

Our goal was to create a total experience where the look and feel of the robots themselves were reflected in the UI and visuals. Reaktor was also responsible for creating the overall story, coding the app, and arranging the event – making this an end-to-end project for us.

“This initiative represents the coming together of two major Nordic companies committed to educational good. LEGO’s mission is to inspire the builders of tomorrow through creative play, while Reaktor has a history of educating kids around the world to code since 2014”

How it works

Kids use an iPad with the Reaktor x LEGO code school app

By simply dragging and dropping, kids learn the principles of programming

The kids move a LEGO Boost robot through a course with a set series of tasks

An idea is born

The project started with a question: how could we make the Reaktor code school even more interesting for kids? Partnering with LEGO Group was the answer – after all, what kid doesn’t love to play with LEGO bricks?

For the first event at Helsinki-Vantaa airport, we’re using a pair of LEGO Boost robots, Vernie and M.T.R.4. In our story, Vernie is a passenger travelling to Japan and going through the terminal building. M.T.R.4. works at the airport and is doing work around the runway. It’s up to the kids to help the two robots complete the goals of the story.

Redesigning the app

Background research and our experience with previous code schools were key to making the best app possible. The idea was to strip away all but the most essential elements that would create a better learning experience. Given that the kids will only have a short amount of time to spend at an event, we also wanted to make the application easy to use.

When designing the visuals and UI for 7–12 year olds, one of the biggest pitfalls is trying too hard to design for kids. We definitely wanted to avoid an end-result where we as the adults come up with some embarrassingly “cool” designs. Instead, we focused on creating a usable app with high quality design that tied in with the robots we would use.

Launching the concept

We decided to test the first version of the app, coding tasks, and overall concept with kids at the Reaktor office in Helsinki. We incorporated their feedback into the next version of the app and continued to develop the concept, but overall we were thrilled with the result. All of the children had a good time and wanted to continue coding the robots after the test was over.

The first Reaktor × LEGO code school officially launched at Helsinki-Vantaa airport on October 12th, with over 200 excited young programmers trying out coding during the weekend.

“If we associate coding with fun, the Reaktor × LEGO code school has succeeded.”

Interested?

Let's build something together.

Business Development Director, LEGO fanboy

Peter Lindberg

peter.lindberg@reaktor.com

+358 50 370 3221