By Elise Hu, NPR
These days, the effort to get more of us writing computer programs has become part of an "everybody should learn to code" ethos that folks like President Obama and Will.I.Am have gotten behind.
"We all depend on technology — to communicate, to bank, [for] information — and none of us know how to read and write code," Will.I.Am points out in an online ad for Code.org, a nonprofit aimed at making coding more mainstream. Obama said in February that he wants young people to "know how to produce stuff using computers and not just consume stuff."
There is no shortage of books and online programs teaching you how to code once you can use a computer. But how would you learn to code if you can't even read? How could 3-year-olds begin to learn the basics of computer programming?
[RELATED READING: Introducing Preschoolers to Programming]
That was the question swirling around the head of startup entrepreneur Dan Shapiro while playing with his twin kids one afternoon. [Disclosure: We didn't know it when we started reporting this story, but Dan is the brother of NPR White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro.] Dan Shapiro tried to come up with a way to play a game with his children without getting bored himself. Then he came up with his own: Robot Turtles, a tabletop board game that teaches youngsters the fundamentals of programming, without words.