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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 598547, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/598547
Research Article

E-Block: A Tangible Programming Tool with Graphical Blocks

1Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
2College of Computer Science, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310023, China

Received 27 November 2012; Accepted 5 January 2013

Academic Editor: Fei Kang

Copyright © 2013 Danli Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This paper designs a tangible programming tool, E-Block, for children aged 5 to 9 to experience the preliminary understanding of programming by building blocks. With embedded artificial intelligence, the tool defines the programming blocks with the sensors as the input and enables children to write programs to complete the tasks in the computer. The symbol on the programming block's surface is used to help children understanding the function of each block. The sequence information is transferred to computer by microcomputers and then translated into semantic information. The system applies wireless and infrared technologies and provides user with feedbacks on both screen and programming blocks. Preliminary user studies using observation and user interview methods are shown for E-Block's prototype. The test results prove that E-Block is attractive to children and easy to learn and use. The project also highlights potential advantages of using single chip microcomputer (SCM) technology to develop tangible programming tools for children.