Microsoft has created, Project Torino, a new way of teaching computational thinking skills and basic programming concepts to children age 7 to 11. The program is inclusive of children who are blind or visually impaired, but sighted children also benefit from the program. It was Microsoft’s intent to make sure that blind children could participate with sighted children without being isolated from them.
Project Torino uses physical beads that link together to form music, stories, and computer programming code. The physical language can then be transferred to a digital platform so that blind and visually impaired children can feel comfortable writing stories, music, and computer software.
There are many jobs that require computer programming skills, and there are not enough people to fill those jobs. There are also an enormous number of blind people who are unemployed. It only makes sense to make sure that these children develop the skills to compete in the job market of today.
From the Developer
Project Torino is a research project that has created a physical programming language for teaching computational thinking skills and basic programming concepts to children age 7-11 inclusive of children with visual disabilities. Working in pairs or alongside, children plug together beads to create code that produces music or stories. Utilising the curriculum exercises provided, children build up an understanding of code and computation concepts. Advanced students can use an accompanying digital interface to transition from the physical code to the digital code. This enables students to move onto mainstream programming tools with a strong understanding of the foundational concepts of computing.
Microsoft Research and the Royal National Institute for the Blind are collaborating to provide 100 children the opportunity to use the physical programming language in a beta trial starting in Autumn 2017.