Picture a 5-year-old, sitting next to a small, toy robot. The robot is in the perfect position to play a small xylophone, but it won't play any music until the kid gets the computer code command correct. Then suddenly, there is music and a child giggling, clapping. This is Play-i Inc's vision for the future of computer science education in kindergarten classrooms everywhere.

So far, investors seem to like the idea, as Play-i's innovative toy robots have landed $8 million to start producing and shipping its robots to more than 200 schools in the United States. Madrona Venture Group and Charles River Ventures led Play-i's Series A fund-raising campaign. 

Some 11,000 Play-i robots have already been ordered from the company's website. The company plans to put its investors' money to good use, creating apps to accompany the toy robots and to build different versions of the robots to sell and distribute. Play-i aims to sell 15,000 robots by the end of this summer.

Play-i Inc. Chief Executive Vikas Gupta is very excited about the enthusiastic response the company's toy robots have received from teachers and parents alike. He says that Play-i's goal is to inspire kids to learn coding by making it more like a fun, entertaining game to play. Play-i will test out its first batch of educational robots in 20 pilot-test schools. The company wants to understand how it can improve the robots to make them more age-appropriate and suited to young children. The first classroom trials will help Play-i learn a lot more about how children play and learn. 

"One of the things we're developing is a way to challenge kids during free play. Like when your robot isn't moving forward, they need to go into the code and figure out why it's not moving forward," Gupta said

Currently, there are two different robots, named Bo and Yana. Bo is described as the "explorer," who likes to go on adventures, while Yana is described as the "storyteller," who encourages kids to use their imagination. Both of the robots are bright blue with one adorable cyclops eye, encircled by bright orange. The robots can play hide and seek together, play the xylophone, spy on others by holding up a smartphone with their lego bracket arms, deliver messages and much more. Essentially, Bo and Yana have endless potential, provided that you know how to code.

The goal is to make coding fun for kids and to ignite the spark of interest in computer science early. Regardless of what these kids actually want to be when they grow up, learning computer code will certainly help them.  

"This is an opportunity to train our children to think like engineers," Madrona Managing Director Scott Jacobson said. "It doesn't mean they have to be programmers, but it's a way of thinking that can be applied to a wide range of disciplines." 

"Play-i is a gummy vitamin opportunity," Jacobson added. "Kids love it because it's fun and it's good for them. The best way for children to learn is through play."

Bo and Yana also grow with you as your coding skills improve. Play-i has created interfaces for children aged 5-12+, so that the learning continues long past kindergarten. Surprisingly, Bo and Yana aren't that expensive either. Yana is just $59, Bo is $169 and you can get both of them for just $228. The accessories cost extra, but not too much. The robots are available for pre-order on Play-i's website and should arrive on your doorstep before Christmas 2014.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.