In our last post we looked at a couple of Kickstarter projects aimed at bringing a new robotics STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning product to the market. In this post let’s take a look at a couple of STEM learning products with a focus on kids.
The market today is flooded with tons of STEM learning options for kids with every product claiming to offer something different and innovative catering to kids of different age groups. As parents it can be tough to work out where you should be investing your hard earned $ and which products out there really deserve that attention. We’ve been working with parents over the last year to help guide them through this process and if you have similar questions please feel free to reach out to us over email, using the contact form at this website or even over the phone.
While it’s impossible to talk about every market segment that exists out there, broadly speaking we have seen two different types of jobs folks are wanting to do with their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning purchases. We will focus on jobs to be done for the following two different focus groups i.e. Parent/Child and Hacker/Maker.
Parent and child – When looking at a STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning product from a parent and child’s perspective you are looking for a product which offers some of the following capability –
- Ease of use
- Excellent documentation
- Good product support
- Ability to engage the child, challenge them and keep the child busy for a significant period of time
- Help build foundational STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills
- Development interface that is block based with a possible learning path leading to development using an IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
- Ability to be used in a class setting with multiple kids working on different aspects of the challenge
- Provide value for money
From a hacker’s point of view here’s some of the things I would be considering……..
Hacker, maker and enthusiast –
- Good documentation
- Strong product support
- Ability to extend or build on existing STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills
- Development interface based on a known or easy to use IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
- Ability to extend the product by adding additional capability or integrating the product with other products out there to create larger complex projects
- An open platform that allows the product to be easily extended and integrated with other 3rd party products or solutions to create larger complex projects
- Community around the product to be able to reach out for support, ideas, discussions, etc.
- Provide value for money
So both the parent/child and the hacker/enthusiast are looking at the same product from two different perspectives trying to get two different types of jobs done. With that at the back of our mind let’s have a look at a few different products being brought to the market through Kickstarter. It should be noted that these are Kickstarter projects that are still in the process of being manufactured and haven’t hit the shelves yes. So there is always a degree of risk if you decide to back such projects.
ActivePuzzle : Building robots out of Puzzle Pieces – According to ActivePuzzle, “ActivePuzzle is a game for building robots out of puzzles. Neither coding nor computer screens are involved: simply snap puzzle blocks together to form robots. Its simplicity and intuitiveness make ActivePuzzle a great platform for invention and innovation. The ActivePuzzle game contains puzzle blocks with each block implementing a certain function: The battery block supplies electric power to the robot, the proximity sensor “sees” objects, the motor can drive a wheel, and so on. ActivePuzzle robots have no central processing unit, but rather work in a distributed manner based on the Braitenberg Vehicle concept: input blocks trigger adjacent output blocks, with the electronic value optionally being manipulated by logic blocks. “
ActivePuzzle wants to bring to the market a STEM learning product that gives kids the ability to build different electronics and robotics projects using simple and easy to put together blocks. Each of these blocks offer different capability e.g. motor control, LED’s, battery, proximity sensor, distance sensor, etc. The kit comes along with documentation that guides the child and parent through a series of interesting projects helping them get started with their STEM learning journey. ActivePuzzle wants to deliver a product that helps kids work with electronics and robotics without having to worry about learning coding. This product is aimed at kids 8 and older.
We have seen a few different products like ActivePuzzle come to market in the past and have been impressed in the type of STEM learning they offer. You can check out ActivePuzzle’s offering at their KickStarter page.
Groove Junior : Snap and programmable play modules – According to Groove, “Grove Junior is a platform of electronic modules that make STEAM learning simple, practical, and most importantly, enjoyable. From the easy snap-and-play with magnets, to the block-based programming, Grove Junior comes with intriguing and educational projects to help kids learn 21st century skills, foster creativity, and develop their critical thinking step by step. Grove Junior has over 25 modules, including a control board, a battery and various sensors and actuators to help you learn basic electronics while building fun creative projects.
Groove has been in the business of creating sensors, electronic boards and kits for a long time now. Groove has a large product offering and one of the best ecosystems for their Groove sensor modules. However most of the Groove ecosystem offerings are focused on the hacker/maker rather than STEM learning for parents and kids. From what we can see Groove Junior is their attempt to focus a lot more on the STEM learning market for kids and help kids get started with making, creating and programming using simple and easy to use modular building blocks.
According to the Kickstarter launch page the Groove Junior kits allow kids to build projects by simple snapping together different blocks and build interesting projects. Each of the modules come with a pair of specially designed magnetic adapters that allow you to snap the modules together with the magnets while also being color coded to allow kids to distinguish types of blocks making it easy to work with them.
Groove is generally known for producing documentation that’ useful to get started. These Groove kits seem to come along with documentation including information on using their coding platform to code the blocks to perform various tasks. Just looking at the content on the KickStarter page Groove Junior kits seem to really well designed. The kits are offer a whole range of electronics modules that will help the child get started with their STEM learning journey exploring fundamentals of electronics, robotics and coding.
Check out the Groove Junior kits and their STEM learning offerings for kids at the Groove Junior Kickstarter page.
Hopefully you have enjoyed the post. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future tutorials drop us a note at – learning at hack2 dot live.
suggestions for future tutorials drop us a note at – learning at hack2 dot live.
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