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Tue, 28 Jan 2020 00:13 GMT

A Harry Potter Wand that Teaches Children to Code

Science & Technology

Benjamin Schmidt - 7Dnews London

Mon, 20 Aug 2018 19:25 GMT

Kano, creators of the award-winning Raspberry Pi computer kit, have joined forces with Warner Brothers to launch a Harry Potter-themed coding kit complete with a wireless wand and app.

The build-it-yourself kit, which will be available on October 1st in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, has only six parts, so it won’t be hard to assemble. In addition to helpful assembly directions, the kit includes detailed schematics of the device’s internal components like the core chipset. The goal is to help demystify computing for children–the company’s modus operandi. Once it’s put together, users can follow over 70 challenges inspired by the Harry Potter books and films.

The wand connects wirelessly to a computer or mobile device and has three sensors, a magnetometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope, allowing it to detect movement in 3-dimensional space. It also has a lighted end and a rumble pack to give sensory feedback to users as they point, wave and twirl the wand at objects on the screen, making them float, multiply, explode, change colour, transform and more.

Progressing through the challenges teaches more complicated and impressive magical spells while also providing understanding of basic coding concepts like iteration loops, control flow, and data scripts. The challenges are also set in familiar Harry Potter locations like Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and the Forbidden Forest, and include canonical Harry Potter tasks like making feathers float and banishing pesky Cornish Pixies.

Most impressively, users can use coding logic to design and calibrate their own magical spells, opening up a much wider creative universe for users to invent spells and show them off.  

Kano is not the first company to introduce toys that encourage children to learn coding through easy-to-use apps and functions. Sphero’s programmable SPRK+ robot is one notable example. However, the combination of the imagination-capturing Harry Potter universe with the novelty of programming your own wand could be a winner for the company. An even better step would be to allow the wand to interact with smart-home appliances such as lights and garage doors.

Each wand kit will be sold for £100, is suitable for children from six years old and can be used on iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows.

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