Project Dates 2001- Present
A Low Cost More Sustainable Platform for Robotics and Scientific Sensing
The GoGo Board is a programmable device with sensor inputs and outputs that can control motors and other types of actuators. It is designed especially for young learners who are new to electronics.
The core design principle behind the GoGo Board is to allow learners to immediately immerse themselves in powerful ideas in computational thinking and STEM–that is, spend as much time as possible on the ideas of their desired creations and less on the technical details of the low-level electronics involved.
This design separates the GoGo Board from alternatives such as the Arduino. For example, when programming an LED, learners can plug in an LED module and start to create interesting patterns instead of having to first assemble an LED circuit on a breadboard. This principle of foregrounding powerful ideas also applies to the easy-to-learn, block-based visual programming language. Additionally, the web-based platform allows learners to instantly view sensor readings and control outputs without programming. The GoGo Board is also compatible with many electronic sensors and actuators that are widely available and can interface with Raspberry Pi for extended capabilities.
Access the online coding platform at code.gogoboard.org
Paulo Blikstein and Arnan Sipitakiat began developing the GoGo Board in 2001 as graduate students at the MIT Media Lab. Inspired by the MIT Cricket and the IRX board and drawing from their backgrounds in developing nations (Brazil and Thailand), Blikstein and Sipitakiat sought to create a low-cost device that would enable children to create games and simulations that incorporate sensors and actuators.
Thus, at its inception a strong emphasis was made on allowing the GoGo Board to be locally produced. The original GoGo Board featured a single-sided printed circuit board and components that were easy to solder (“thru-hole” components.) Extensive research was done in the electronics street markets in São Paulo, Mexico City, and Bangkok, to ensure that each component was available. This DIY approach made the board low-cost and accessible in countries where imported goods were prohibitively expensive or simply unavailable.
Over the initial six years of development, the GoGo Board underwent several revisions building on the core DIY and low-cost principles. While the initial versions were tethered-only devices, GoGo Board 3 incorporated a Logo compiler that allowed for autonomous programming and operation independent of a computer. 2007 saw another major milestone for the project: Arnan and Roger were granted permission by MIT to open-source the GoGo Board platform.
In 2009, the GoGo Board 4 was released. Although not fully commercialized, this was the first GoGo Board version that saw relatively wide use–with two thousand boards produced during its six-year lifetime.
Version 5, released in 2015, was a complete redesign of the GoGo Board. With the advent of DIY electronics, the emphasis on “making your own board” and local, hands-on fabrication became less salient. Although no longer possible to assemble a GoGo Board 5 with simple soldering irons, this version then made full use of the latest miniaturized components available on the market and incorporated a number of key technical advances. These advances included a simplified installation process, improvements to the Logo language, the development of a block-based visual programming language (Tinker), and additional ports that make use of the Raspberry Pi to enable the use of WiFi, cameras, sound, GPS, etc.
The recently released GoGo 6 is the current hardware version. There are currently thousands of boards in use in schools worldwide–including Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Portugal, China, and the United States.