Product: Cubetto

Producer: Primo Toys

Compatibility: N/A

Cost: Around $300 for Cubetto Classic

Product summary:

Cubetto is a wooden robot designed to teach the basics of computer programming. Cubetto is marketed as a teaching tool for classrooms and homeschooling with target audience of children aged 3 to 9. The start-up Cubetto Classic package includes Cubetto, a coding board, coding blocks, and a patterned fabric mat for Cubetto to transverse.

Highlights:

  • Simple, colour-coded instructions – very little set-up required;
  • The Coding board uses a simple pegboard design where the user places coloured blocks sequentially to control Cubetto, supporting the development of linear thinking and problem-solving skills;
  • After the coding blocks are placed, the user presses a ‘start’ button and is able to follow flashing indicators on the coding board as each instruction is sent to Cubetto providing a very clear cause-effect experience;
  • The simple design is highly adaptable for a variety of activities and users – with additional activity ideas available on the developer website.

Lowlights:

  • Limited range of command choices and spaces on the coding board – may not be suitable for more advanced users – though additional coding blocks may be purchased separately;
  • Not possible to make modifications to the functional features of Cubetto (i.e. speed, repetition of coding sequences, etc.) to adapt for individual users;

Ratings:

Ease of Use: Grab and Go ★★★★★

Adaptability: Some Personalization Possible ★★★☆☆

Accessibility: Suitable for Almost All Users ★★★★★

Cost vs. Value: Worthwhile Expense ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Final word:

Cubetto presents the basics of coding using tangible, interactive elements that are highly appealing to a wide demographic of users. Though there are similar app-based programs available, the ability to touch and manipulate coding blocks provides a concrete learning experience that cannot be replicated in a virtual environment.

The simplicity of Cubetto’s design makes it suitable for a broader range of users than the intended target audience. It is possible to use Cubetto with a limited number of command options for beginners and to increase the range of commands available as they develop their understanding and coding skills. Though the pre-created story-based activities are designed for a younger audience, with a little creativity Cubetto easily adapts to more complex escape-the-maze activities, robot art, or even debugging-style problem-solving tasks.

Cubetto uses block coding, where individual command blocks represent what would otherwise be complex written code if presented in a traditional coding format. By arranging these coding blocks, the user is essentially placing segments of code in order to create a program.  When considering Cubetto as an introductory tool for individuals interested in learning how to code, or even wanting to pursue a career in computer programming, this jump from block coding to written code can seem like a massive leap; however, it teaches the general concepts without the user needing to understand how to read and write written code – decreasing the demands of the initial learning curve which may otherwise act as a deterrent for an emerging computer programmer. Once the concepts are learned, replacing each colour coded block for a written command becomes a much less daunting challenge.

Cubetto’s potential applications for use are only limited by the creativity of the user. Though more costly than app-based coding programs, Cubetto’s adaptability makes it a worthwhile expense that shows promise for long-term use while continuing to provide an engaging experience.