September 20, 2023

Google’s Terysa Ridgeway Launches Educational Toy Robot To Teach Kids How To Code

A Google Technical Program Manager, Terysa Ridgeway, is launching Alilo the Explorer, an educational toy robot that teaches children how to code.

Meet Terysa Ridgeway

Ridgeway has been a Tech Program Manager at Google for almost two years.

She is also the author of The Terysa Solves It book series that introduces young girls to Computer Science.

The child of two teachers, Ridgeway’s fascination with technology began early. One day, her mother brought home a computer, and Ridgeway was intrigued by the data processor that allowed the keyboard’s letters to appear on the screen. 

Building on her curiosity, Ridgeway later pursued Computer Science and Math degrees from Southern University and A&M College and worked as a software engineer.

She was soon invited to participate in an Engineering Leadership Development Program, where she was introduced to Program Management.

Now at Google, she supervises strategic project roll-outs, develops long-term strategies, and leads large portfolio projects from end to end.

In addition to working at Google, Ridgeway is actively involved in educational programs focusing on Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

As part of her book series, she recently authored a children’s book, Think Like A Computer, to introduce children to Computer Science through an engaging narrative.

She is now launching a toy robot she created, Alilo the Explorer, designed to teach children three years and up to code.

Alilo the Explorer

Alilo the Explorer teaches children how to code by building on foundational problem-solving and critical thinking skills through basic algorithmic programming, Ridgeway told AfroTech.

In collaboration with toy brand Alilo, the toy will allow children to connect puzzle pieces and code to enable the robot to follow the path they created.

She said that for children who are older or want more advanced options, there is block-based programming, which is basically coding.

“The difference between text-based coding and block-based coding is that children don’t have to necessarily worry about the syntax of coding because that usually is the gap between block-based coding and text-based coding,” she told AfroTech.

“So it erases all those barriers and allows them to program the robot to sing songs and go different directions and do lots of different things. I’m very excited about it.”

The toy is expected to become available in October 2023 through an exclusive mobile app on Android devices, which will eventually be available on Apple devices and Google Play.

“Teaching children to code is like giving them a superpower: It unlocks endless possibilities and creativity,” Ridgeway expressed.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.