Kickstarter has delivered some pretty cool projects over the last couple of years. One of our favorites to come out of the crowd-funding world is the Kano Raspberry Pi microcomputer. As coding has taken off with the success of iOS and Android’s app stores, we are seeing more educators and parents take an interest in using it as a medium for learning. Kano was one of the first coding projects for kids on Kickstarter and we loved it.
Fast forward a year later and another Kickstarter campaign is focused on marrying robotics and coding into a kid-friendly package. Robo Wunderkind uses LEGO skills and iOS/Android connectivity to enable children to build their own robot. So far the response has been through the roof.
Robo Wunderkind is a modular toy that focuses on bringing together handcrafting and coding. While games like Minecraft have kids forgetting about LEGO, Robo hopes to find a sweet spot between the two. The Wunderkind project is designed for kids starting at age five, with colorful smart cubes that are large enough to ease the struggles of a developing child. LEGO has a similar product, but it is designed for older children and includes many smaller pieces.
Each cube has a different function associated with it: motors, Bluetooth, proximity sensors, batteries and more. Blocks are connected with circular pieces of plastic and use inductive power to transfer energy when needed. There are also wheels and a LEGO adapter for adding on blocks to make a custom creation.
After a robot is built, kids can use the iOS or Android application to program actions. A wide variety of tasks can be carried out through the app: driving, recording audio, playing music, capturing photos and more. Robo Wunderkind uses the popular MIT coding language for kids called Scratch, but will also has an API available for more advanced users in the future.
The simplistic nature of this product is what makes it so intriguing. To bring coding to ages five years and up is a feat worth noting. While toys like DUPLO offer simplified building, bringing coding into the fold makes Robo standout from the crowd. Currently, the Kickstarter campaign has raised over $165,000 which is good for more than double its original goal. A pledge of $149 will deliver a basic kit with a few sensors, wheels, connectors and the LEGO adapters. Jumping up to $249 adds additional sensors and a LED display.
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