First graders at Solomon Elementary School squealed and cheered as they skipped past and then stomped on bright blue floor tiles that lit up, changed color and made sounds.
“When do I get to play?” asked one eager girl, Arianna, just moments after she’d had a turn. “This feels like playing on the playground.” Her classmate, Dominick, chimed in: “It’s fun, exciting and challenging!”
The square mats, called Unruly Splats, might seem like pure fun, but they introduce children to computer coding at a basic level. Each durable square has a “splat” that looks like a splash of paint. The tiles are connected wirelessly to a tablet or similar device where they are programmed.
Kids start by playing pre-loaded games with the Splats, then learn to alter the block code that programs them, and eventually they can create their own games.
The educational tool is being piloted this spring in the Leilehua complex of public schools in Wahiawa, starting with three campuses. Grant Toyooka, a resource manager who is leading the effort, said Splats meet multiple needs for students, including social skills, exercise and logical thinking.