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New drone helps kids learn programming

By Zhao Xinying | | Updated: 2016-11-13 13:10

New drone helps kids learn programming

Wang Jianjun, founder of Makeblock, introduces the Airblock drone.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A programmable drone, a new product released by an education technology company, attracted attention at the 2016 Global Education Technology conference, which was held in Beijing this weekend.

The drone, called Airblock, was developed by Makeblock, a Shenzhen-based manufacturer of mechanical parts and electronic modules.

Consisting of seven modules that are connected to each other through magnetic force, the drone can be transformed into different forms, such as a hovercraft or a car. It can be controlled by a mobile phone or a tablet computer after programming on a specific app.

Wang Jianjun, Makeblock's founder, said the product was made for children aged 8 and older, in the hope of making programming easier and more interesting to them.

According to Wang, programming has become a required course and a necessary skill for children in the United States, apart from classes such as reading, writing and arithmetic. In China, young children have just started to get to learn about it.

"In this phase, attracting children's attention and helping them keep interest is very essential," Wang said. "So they need attractive products that can help them learn knowledge, learn to think independently and creatively and learn to program while playing."

Founded in 2013 by Wang, who studied aircraft design for seven years in college, Makeblock has focused on international markets. Wang said their products are like a metalversion of LEGO, the Danish construction toys, and is dedicated to help people "turn their ideas into reality".

So far, the products have been sold in more than 140 countries and regions across the world and have been particularly welcomed at schools in France and Spain.

The 31-year-old said they started expanding domestic markets in 2015 and had sales worth 3 to 4 million yuan ($440,000 to 590,000) last year. This year witnessed a great leap for Makeblock as sales increased 10-fold.

As STEAM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, is emphasized in domestic education, Wang said he's confident about Makeblock's future. He believes that the products can play a role in China's STEAM education and that his company will become a leading enterprise in this field.

New drone helps kids learn programming

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