The Boku project is an interesting research project that lets young children create simple programs to more a robot around an imaginary three dimensional world. Laura Foy of On10 has a video of the very first public demonstration.
I’ve been hearing about this for a while and hope to see it myself on my next trip out to Redmond. There are several interesting features of this besides the cool factor of running on an Xbox 360 and the great graphics. One is that there is not a lot of need for reading and writing. No typing for sure. But even still one can create some simple steps for the robot to follow and get an early feel for the highs (and perhaps some of the lows) of real programming. Clearly though the big win is the need to think things out, solve problems and create what are really algorithms. Little kids don’t know that things are supposed to be hard. Its a great time to get them to try things, learn from things, and get some idea that things can be fun.
I can’t wait to see Boku become available so that people can try it out.