Facebook is using Sphero robots to teach children how to code

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Fazeel Ashraf
IT graduate from Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology with a passion for writing. When not reading or writing, I can be found listening to rock and metal or playing some classic jams on my electric guitar. I’m also a big fan of horror movies.

Facebook is helping children learn how to code in the most innovative way possible. Kids who are able to successfully complete their programming assignments will be sent Sphero robots, which they can then program.
Facebook’s latest educational venture, CodeFWD, will provide online programming tutorials to children and assist the teachers from Code.org.
These programmable Sphero robots are called Bolts. Sphero is the same company which made the now famous Star Wars BB-8 droid toy.
Students can then learn how to used block-based Javascript to program Bolts to play with each other, light up and roll in different directions.
Facebook for Education collectively lists programs that help teach students how to code. These include TechStart and Oculus Next Gen for providing schools and colleges with VR headsets.
Another example would be Launchpad and Oculus that helps support diverse, creative VR content makers and gives a much-needed spotlight to philanthropic VR material.
Facebook has also developed tools just for teachers called Workplace and Groups that will help them coordinate and organize work-related tasks more efficiently.
Facebook is launching another initiative this month known as Engineer for the Week. This will be an after-school program that will teach teens applied computer science.
Students will be working on developing games and chatbots for local causes. This will be a three-week program in which students will be working with engineers at Facebook.
The program runs 4 times a year, i.e. once every quarter.
The next cycle will start on the first of October and will end in a two-day hackathon event at Facebook HQ.
Facebook wants to increase diversity
Facebook’s main goal is to provide underprivileged and underrepresented communities with the right tools to get them into computer programming.

The company is focusing on the future; it wants such communities to have more opportunities so they can reap the benefits by increasing their workplace diversity.

Director of Facebook Education, Lauryn Hale Ogbechie had this to say,” We know that it’s important to make sure we’re supporting the next generation of diverse talent. It can really widen the pipeline.”
She further added, “I think it’s of benefit to any tech company and the industry more broadly. If we’re able to support students studying computer science, that will benefit everyone down the road.”
Facebook has not clearly stated how many robots it will be sending out. Once both the teacher and students have successfully completed the tutorials and quizzes, they can apply for the robot.
Hopefully, this move will ease some of the tension of the Silicon Valley giant and show it in a good light.

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