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It’s no secret that teaching kids to code is the new frontier of education.
Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and the world’s greatest technological mindssupport the non-profit organization Code.org. Groups like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and the online Codecademy offer new ways for children and adults to begin their study of computer programming languages.
But there’s one place where this message has been preached for years, one place where the earliest coding education tool, called Scratch, was created and put online for millions of teachers and students around the world to download. One place where much of the world’s most innovative thinking takes place long before a product or platform hits the market and changes lives.
That’s the MIT Media Lab.
I was touring the Cambridge, Mass., lab last week when its lifelong kindergarten research group released ScratchJr. It’s a simplified version of Scratch, geared toward kids ages 5-7, and another effort by the lab to make coding as critical a skill as writing.
But it’s also an example of the entrepreneurism woven within each of the 388 projects under exploration by the lab’s 26 research groups, evident to me as senior press liaison Alexandra Kahn took me in and out of the studios explaining the projects on display and the teams at work.
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