Cubetto is a tangible programming interface designed to introduce children aged 3 to 6 to computational thinking and programming logic by allowing them to program a small wooden robot using colourful blocks. Children play with the “queue” of instructions, one of the fundamental concepts behind programming, without using literacy or screens.
A wooden, cube shaped robot with an engraved smiling face on its front. Cubetto stands on two wheels A and two fixed plastic stands we call “castors” B, extruded from the chassis.
Cubetto is controlled via the Board, by inserting sequences of instruction blocks inside of the available slots D.Each slot also has a corresponding feedback LED directly under it F. The first twelve slots are connected by an engraved “thread” E and make up the “main sequence”A
The last four slots are instead enclose in an engraved “thread”, called the “function line” C. A fixed action button B is located on the right portion of the Interface Board to sends commands to Cubetto.
A set of blocks that vary in shape and colour. Every block represents a specific instruction. Every block shares the same D-shaped sub-structure, allowing them to fit into the corresponding slots in the Interface Board. The four blocks are:
Cubetto moves forward (15cm)
Cubetto rotates 90° Counter Clock Wise
Cubetto rotates 90° Clock Wise
Cubetto executes the function line
The blocks fit in the same square perimeter, to keep the margins constant when inserted in the board. Individual shapes indicates abstract directions, and distinct bright colours, to prevent confusion.
A 1m x 1m polyester map Cubetto’s World. The map is a 6 by 6, 15cm x 15cm square grid, used as a play surface (sometimes referred to simply as “Map”).
(Available as an add-on) The same dimensions as the Cubetto’s World Map, there are four extension packs to continue the Cubetto series: Cubetto in the city, in Egypt, under the sea, and out in space.
Cubetto and the Interface Board can be powered by 3 AA batteries each. The battery enclosures are located on the bottom of both devices A B. A crosshead screwdriver is required to access the battery slots.
Cubetto and the Interface Board are turned ON and OFF from a sliding-switch located on the bottom of each device. When Cubetto is turned on, he executes a tune. When the Interface Board is turned on, all feedback LEDs blink three times.
Cubetto and the Interface Board communicate wirelessly, and must be paired to function. Pairing happens in the background, no action is required by the user, and multiple devices can be paired in close proximity without interfering. Indoor wireless range is roughly 10 meters.
1. Switch on both the Interface Board and then Cubetto (restart Cubetto if already on).
2. Insert any of the direction blocks (not the blue one) in the first slot on the Interface Board.
3. Press the action button to send Cubetto an instruction. Cubetto should perform the instruction.
4. Cubetto is now paired with the Interface Board, until either device is turned off.
5. If either the Interface Board or Cubetto are turned off, repeat the procedure to pair them again
How it works
Children build a chain of sequential instructions (the “queue”) by inserting the blocks in the board. A sequence of blocks is in fact a program for Cubetto to execute. The program is sent to the robot by pressing the action button on top of the Interface Board, and the robot will execute the instructions in order.
Creating a sequence
Insert a legitimate block inside the interface board 1. If the block is inserted correctly, the corresponding “feedback LED” will light up 2. Combine blocks sequentially to write a program for Cubetto 3. After the button is pressed, changing the sequence will not affect Cubetto. You must wait until the sequence is terminated in order to write a new program.
The sequence starts from the top-left slot and follows the line engraved on the surface of the Interface Board. Block inserted after an empty slot will not be recognised or executed A. During the execution of a command, the corresponding Feedback LED will blink. Cubetto plays a unique tune after executing each individual command. The tune is unique for each command type. Cubetto will play a longer tune at the end of the entire sequence.
Creating a function
The Blue block (Also known as the “function block”), is used to “../pack” more instructions in a single block, enabling advanced problem solving through more elaborate sequences. Functions are created by inserting a sequence of blocks in the bottom line of the board (the function line), which is executed by Cubetto every time the blue block is encountered in the main sequence.
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