Program or be programmed?

Bachelor thesis about how to learn coding in german primary schools, industrial design study, 2019-2020

Problem and mission

There are several offerings for children to learn programming, but they often lack one of the requirements. In workshops I could observe that robots are very popular with children, but focus very little on programming. Microcontrollers offer a wide variety of possibilities. They can be integrated into motion games and many teaching subjects. But they are still very technical and complex.

Learning criteria

The pedagogue Pestalozzi once said that children learn best when these aspects are given in the learning process. Together with the given media competencies for elementary school, these were chosen as the mission basics. 


The concept consists of a micro-controller and a coding app for pupils and teachers. The main focus lies in the reduced design, as the technology disappears to the back. However, it became clear that a case was needed to provide protection and hide the technology even more. In addition, small parts that can get lost were reduced.


In order to prove the concept, a simple prototype was developed, in which the technical package was to be tested in particular. 

Students and teachers were interviewed. The user tests showed, among other things, that a larger matrix was desired and that a vibration motor for reflection from smartphones is better than servo motors.

Final design

Since the sensors are the elements that are triggered by the children, they have been given a bright, radiant yellow. It should signal the intended interaction. The actuators passively operate in response to the sensors. That’s why they’ve been given a pastel blue color that seems rather unexcited.

Here you can see the process of transferring an algorithm from the iPad to the microcontroller. When the green checkmark appears, the cable can be removed and CodeBox is ready to perform the created code.

The bottom side shows the plexiglass at its holes you can attach e.g. cords for a movement game. You can also see the many technical elements and the icons developed with the interviewed children.

🎤 Podcast 

I was given the opportunity to share my experiences from this project in the podcast "Zukunft gestalten". Feel free to listen on Spotify or Apple. (german only)

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