LEGO’s Mindstorm, Boost and Power-up sets have long been facilitating learning and play inside and out of the classroom. And earlier this year at Toy Fair 2018, we got a glimpse into the company’s plans for introducing learn-to-code kits to an even younger age group. Today, LEGO has introduced their latest kit, the Duplo Coding Express in hopes of getting even younger builders interested in programming.

LEGO’s previous attempt took the form of a motorized train that allowed young builders to control it by placing function blocks into the tracks. It even paired with a companion app to bring remote-control functionality and more into the mix.

Now LEGO is stepping up its game with the release of an all-new STEAM-oriented kit. Focusing on the same young demographic, the new 234-piece Coding Express was made with three and four-year-olds in mind. The same familiar train build is back alongside five new action bricks that offer a unique learning experience for getting younger children into coding.

The Duplo Coding Express won’t teach your three-year-old how to write Swift code or program their own webpage. As great as that would be, LEGO’s focus here is on getting kids accustomed to basic programming concepts like loops and subroutines. Through the use of a train, tracks and acton bricks, the kit allows you to program the brick-built locomotive. These control pieces come in a variety of colors and each represent their own unique action for the train to take. For instance the red brick executes a stop, blue activates the train’s horn and so on.

When all stacked up, you’re essentially looking at a pretty simple computer program. But thinking of programming concepts in the context of interacting with a train is a pretty intuitive idea. The track itself is just one big while loop, with all of the action bricks acting as conditions to be met or methods to be executed.

LEGO’s Coding Express kit doesn’t require a computer, phone or any kind of companion app. The entire experience is centered around bricks and is a great middle ground between your basic children’s toy and other STEAM-focused kits from the likes of littleBits or Kano.

As LEGO looks to continue solidifying its role in the STEAM toy industry, kits like the Coding Express are thoughtful additions to its lineup. The new Duplo set will be available from LEGO’s educational portal starting in October and carries a $190 price tag. Compared to the smaller Steam Train set, the new Coding Express has a bit more substance and stacks up to a much higher part count.

BILLUND, Denmark–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, LEGO® Education announces Coding Express, the newest early learning solution in its hands-on LEGO learning portfolio. Coding Express is an intuitive and versatile solution based on a LEGO® DUPLO® brick train set that comes to life when children use the five new action bricks. The concept builds foundational coding and transferrable skills, including collaboration and problem solving, for the youngest learners through activities that introduce concepts of sequencing, looping and more. The new solution brings together physical and digital play with the addition of a child-directed app that allows children to explore emotions, journeys, music and math, inspiring their physical play with the LEGO® DUPLO® brick set.

“With the launch of Coding Express, we are excited to further extend our education portfolio and introduce fundamental coding and STEAM concepts to the youngest learners,” said Esben Stærk Jørgensen, president of LEGO Education. “The launch of Coding Express comes on the heels of the 10thanniversary of LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 and the 20th anniversary of LEGO MINDSTORMS which have been used in classrooms around the world to promote essential STEAM and coding concepts in primary and secondary schools. There is no better time than today to ensure the youngest learners also have access to a relevant, fun, and engaging way to learn these foundational skills and to develop 21st century skills which we know will prepare them for a lifetime of successful learning.”

Coding Express is accompanied by the LEGO Education Coding Express Teacher Guide, which features eight lessons for classroom use and created with national standards and guidelines. Action bricks and switches are used to make the train go to exciting places or react in certain ways. The children work in groups interacting with the train as they place the action bricks around the tracks to sound the horn, turn the lights on and off, pause and refuel, change direction, plan a route and stop the train wherever they like.

While teachers and students benefit from LEGO Education’s hands-on learning solutions, including Coding Express, parents also recognize the benefits. According to a new study from the LEGO Group that surveyed almost 13,000 parents and children on the role of play, parents rank playful learning as the number one education technique, and children agree they learn better when play is involved. Four in five children agree they learn better when play is involved. Almost all surveyed parents (95%) believe play is essential for children’s wellbeing, and four in five (82%) think that children who play more will be more successful in future studies and work. Further, while parents agree that spending time playing with their children makes families happier, they admit to struggling to prioritize playtime with their children due to hectic daily schedules. Because of this, maximizing playful learning opportunities in the classroom is extremely important.

Each Coding Express set is designed to be used for up to six children at a time. Coding Express will be available in US and China by October 2018. For all other markets it will be available through spring of 2019.

Visit LEGOeducation.com/CodingExpress or contact your local LEGO Education distributor to learn more.

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