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KidsLab - a podcast for parents and educators passionate about STEAM education
32 minutes | 2 months ago
Roboy & Lucy with Rafael Hostettler
I am talking to Rafael Hostettler, he’s the guardian and project lead of Roboy - a very exciting robotics project of Devanthro GmbH. Late last year, they’ve also kickstarted and released a children’s book called Roboy & Lucy.Rafael is Roboy’s legal guardian and project lead. He has an Master in Computational Science and Engineering from ETH Zurich, Switzerland and works towards his PhD at the robotics and embedded systems lab at the Technical University of Munich. He’s a true robotics enthusiast and played a huge role in the history and development of Roboy. Roboy is an advanced humanoid robot and research project that was originally developed at the AI Lab of the University of Zurich. Right after its unveiling, Rafael adopted the robot and moved with it to Munich. As already mentioned, Roboy is all about humanoid robotic design - the human body is the blueprint. This means Roboy has a skeleton and muscles for example - and uses a lot of AI in each of the sub-systems of course. We’ll definitely chat about Roboy a lot during the interview, but the focus is actually on a children’s book called Roboy & Lucy that Rafael helped to kickstarted and fulfill in 2019. The book is now available in both English and German and also in digital and print format. The book teaches about friendship, curiosity, and the use of technology for a good purpose.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
Otto DIY with Camilo Parra Palacio
Today on the show, I am talking to Camilo Parra Palacio, the founder of Otto DIY - it’s all about 3D printable robot components and project kids to take your STEAM learning to new levels.Camilo is a Product Design Engineer and the Founder of Otto DIY. He’s a Designer by profession, roboticist and 3D printing enthusiast by passion. Born in Colombia a drive for adventure and pursuing his dreams took him to China in 2014, while working in Shanghai for a multinational inflatable toy manufacturer, he wondered upon the very first Hackerspace in China. There he started playing, learning and experimenting with DIY robots. At that time DIY robots were only accessible to professionals, and not well known to the general public. After coming up short with finding an easy to make robot for all ages, he realized what he needed to do. Bring to the market an open source robot that anyone can make. He bought a 3D printer and in a couple of months the iconic shape of Otto was made functional.Since then thousands of people started using Otto all around the world due to it’s simple Do-it-yourself home assembly attributes. Otto DIY is headquartered in Czech Republic, the center of Europe where the term robot and the best open source 3D printer was created. Thanks to Otto DIY open source nature, it has become one of the most popular 3D printable robot designs in the world. And by the way: Otto is the first-ever Open Source Hardware certificated project from the Czech Republic!
23 minutes | 2 months ago
Finch Robot 2.0 with Bambi Brewer
I am talking to Bambi Brewer about the new Finch Robot 2.0. Bambi is the director of Engineering at Birdbrain Technologies, the creators of the Finch Robot. Bambi works from the beginning to the end of the development process to design new products, ensure software is reliable and easy to use, and create curriculum pathways to help take robotics projects to the next level. She has a bachelor in math and physics from Rhodes College, and a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. She has experience in education at all levels and has been designing robotics curricula since 2013. In her free time, she raises a teenager and knits obsessively.Let’s have a look at the Finch Robot v2, BirdBrain’s latest creation. It’s of course the successor of the popular first Finch Robot and a big shift is the use of the BBC micro:bit as a computational brain of this robot. The finch is a robot that targets kids from Kindergarten to college and allows them to experience their coding creations in a hands-on, physical way. The micro:bit already features quite a few sensors, such as the accelerometer or buttons. But Finch 2.0 adds even more cool stuff: a whiteboard marker holder, color LEDs, buzzer, light sensor, distance sensor and even line tracking sensor. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts 7+ hours. And little details make it special for me - things as visual markers on the wheels so you can count the iterations easily. That’s the geeky hardware bit - the software looks even more exciting with block-based programming in all forms and apps as well as text-based coding supported. We go into details in the interview.
33 minutes | 3 months ago
The Next-Generation Calliope Mini with Jørn Alraun
In this episode, I am talking to Joern Alraun, managing partner at Calliope, about the next version of the Calliope Mini Single Board Computer - Calliope Mini v2.That’s the second time that I interview Joern and the third time we discuss the Calliope Mini - it’s simply a very cool board I guess. Jørn is an interaction designer, co-founder of several companies with a focus on developing digital learning toys and he is a member of the Interaction Design Association. As you might recall, Joern is the managing partner at Calliope gGmbH and in the last interview with him about the Boson Starter Kit for Calliope Mini, he already mentioned that a Calliope Mini v2 is coming soon.The Calliope Mini is an educational board for kids to learn coding - if you need details about the Calliope Mini in general, please be sure to look at the shownote links at kidslab.dev for the specific Calliope Mini episodes. So now the v2.0 of Calliope Mini is out, featuring a memory chip which can hold up to 25 programs. Even better, the Calliope Mini v2 already ships with 25 programs, which means the board can now be used right out of the box, without prior programming. That makes a huge difference when you think of a typical classroom situation and want to get started exploring the board.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
Solarbotics with Dave Hrynkiw
In this episode, I am talking to Dave Hrynkiw, the president of Solarbotics. Solarbotics is selling educational robotic kits for any skill level. My interviewee, Dave, is the President of Solarbotics Ltd., a hobby robotics company based in Calgary, Canada. He started out with a Mechanical Engineering background in typical Alberta format - designing down-hole oil tools. As he has always had a fondness for clever mechanics, he educated himself in analog and digital electronics. At that time, robotics interest was high and he started designing small, well-documented robot kits.As the name suggested, Solarbotics specialty is in Solar powered electronics. But they also stock unique parts for robot builders, such as gear motors, solar cells, or just simple parts that you need to know will work.For example, they are selling the SolarSpeeder v2 which is a model car project kit that can cover 3 meters in under 40 seconds in direct sunlight. The kit requires soldering and assembly - but detailed instructions are provided. In this episode, I’d love to focus on electricity and solar-powered project kits. Teaching our kids the possibilities of renewable energies is a great topic and I am happy to explore this topic together with Dave.
26 minutes | 3 months ago
TechnoChic with Natasha Dzurny
In this episode, I am talking to Natasha Dzurny from TechnoChic. TechnoChic Tech-Craft Kits provide resources, inspiration and supplies for crafters to explore technology and techies to explore craft.Natasha is the founder of TechnoChic and she is using her passion for arts and crafts and DIY tech to transform the way the world understands and creates with technology. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design and a Masters Degree in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University, and has spent her professional career in education and design positions, including teaching Final Cut Pro in the SoHo Apple Store, and designing projects for companies like Brown Dog Gadgets and LittleBits. Natasha is an experienced workshop facilitator and teacher, and loves to share her passion with students, crafters, and companies. She’s always looking to collaborate and share tech-craft projects with other makers! TechnoChic.net is a great place to go for inspiration for DIY, tech-inspired and crafty projects. The project kits that Natasha sells online are very expressive and I am sure that many kids will proudly use them in their everyday lives once they make them. For example, there is the “Be a Unicorn” DIY kit which includes all materials to create a flashy, LED-lit unicorn headband. Or the “Watch me Sparkle” Kit which turns a reusable shopping bag into a flashy art project. Natasha is on a mission to shatter conventions around traditional thinking: tech is for boys and creativity is for girls. Hence, “technochic” - short for “Technology should be chic”. A nod to the fact that most tech is designed by men and therefore masculine, but it should be more chic!
25 minutes | 3 months ago
Bright Wearables with Debra Ansell
I am talking to Debra Ansell - she’s the creator of the blog Geek Mom Projects and the founder of Bright Wearables - they sell hackable and customizable accessories for kids.Debra is a technophile mom of three boys and always looking for new projects to tackle. I love what she wrote in the about me section of her blog: \“I decided to start blogging because, as Adam Savage of Mythbusters says: “…the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.” \“So her blog, geekmomprojects.com, is filled with creative projects ideas for those who want to make stuff together with their kids. Most projects include some kind of LED lighting, laser-cutting or the popular BBC micro:bit. The projects Debra shows you to make also look really terrific, check the shownotes at kidslab.dev for the links to the Teeny Tiny Edge-Lit Trophy or the Edge-Lit Pendant for example. Some of the projects will require you to get access to a laser cutter, so now you have finally a really good reason to sign up for the makerspace close to you!
25 minutes | 4 months ago
The SpinWheel with Bridget Hegarty
I am talking to Bridget Hegarty about the SpinWheel. The SpinWheel is a small, colorful, programmable, wearable kit to facilitate student exploration of physics, engineering, and computer science.Bridget is part of the SpinWheel Team, a group of volunteers with a passion for teaching science and building beautiful things. She is a postdoc researcher in Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. As a kid, Bridget was always asking “why?” Luckily, her parents put up with her incessant questioning and taught her to love the process of discovering new information. Bridget continues to pursue answers to her questions as a researcher, studying the microbes that survive in buildings. Outside of the lab, she shares her love of science and engineering by designing and leading activities that help participants, particularly girls, envision themselves as engineers. Through SpinWearables, she is excited to develop educational kits to inspire the next generation of engineers.The SpinWheel is a colorful wearable programming kit. It can be “just” a stylish, cool, accessoire, but can also be programmed to be way more via the popular Arduino IDE. For example you can turn it into a step counter, a compass or an exploration tool for color and vision. No prior knowledge is required to program the spinwheel and it also comes with an educational guide that introduces you to the basics.
35 minutes | 4 months ago
CodeGrades, PyperCard and Mu Editor with Nicholas Tollervey
In this episode, I am talking to Nicholas Tollervey about CodeGrades but we’re also touching on some of his other projects like PyperCard and the Mu Editor.I took the following from an O’Reilly book author page, but I think it’s a great description for Nicholas: Nicholas is a classically trained musician, philosophy graduate, teacher, writer and software developer. He's just like this biography: concise, honest and full of useful information.Nicholas develops software that helps folks learn the skills and knowledge they need to imagine, develop and program the stuff they want. In addition to writing software, he spends a lot of time researching and thinking about how people learn, use and create with code.So when it comes to education and coding education in particular, I think the one thing that all his projects have in common is the programming language Python. CodeGrades, PyperCard, the Mu Editor - they’re all about Python. CodeGrades - is an educational platform for learners, teachers and mentors - it’s Nicholas’s latest project. PyperCard - is a GUI framework, a graphical user interface framework, for beginner coders.The Mu Editor is a very popular editor for beginner python projects, it’s also often used for hardware boards such as Adafruit’s Circuit PLayground which can be programmed using Python.
26 minutes | 4 months ago
Bloxels with Rob Bennet
In this episode, I am talking to Rob Bennet, the Co-Founder and CEO of Pixel Press. With Bloxels, one of their services, kids can create their own interactive games.Bloxels is one of his creations that started 7 years ago. Bloxels is all about building video games, a topic that you can imagine resonates very well with kids. According to their website, more than 20k educators are using Bloxels in their classrooms today.Games, Characters, Art and and Backgrounds - those are the elements you will start building and don’t worry, the bloxel web/iOS/Android apps will help you to get started. Even building a character is lot’s of fun and you can of course try out your creations during this processWhen it comes to building the game itself, it’s a bit like Minecraft in 2D - you place enemies, dangerous elements, water and so on on the game canvas and can then immediately try it out. It’s a lot of fun - but what is probably the most important thing is, it turns kids from consumers into creators of their own games.
27 minutes | 4 months ago
The Raspberry Pi with James Robinson
In this episode, I am talking to James Robinson about the Raspberry PI. The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers with the common goal to promote teaching of basic computing in schools and in developing countries.James is a senior learning manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. As a former teacher he is passionate about supporting teachers develop and apply effective teaching approaches for computing pedagogy and training. James enjoys learning new maker skills from knitting and croquet to programming and 3D design. He’s a bit of a space enthusiast as well as an adult fan of lego and has combined his passions to send Lego minifigs to near space using a Raspberry Pi. So what is the Raspberry PI all about. There is actually no such thing as a single Raspberry PI, The Raspberry Pi ecosystem now consists of a range of single board computers and accessories like it’s camera or sense-hat board. The hardware is developed by the Raspberry PI Foundation in the UK and since the first model in 2012 their products have been in high demand.Over the years and with more powerful models of the Raspberry Pi released, many researchers and also developers for commercial projects started using the Raspberry PI. But still, the educational roots are strong and lot’s of educational software and projects are available for this small, low cost computer.This is the first episode that focuses exclusively on the Raspberry PI and together with James, we’re trying to give you a good overview of the Raspberry Pi itself,the educational software and content that are available. There is literally a universe of Raspberry Pi projects out there, so we’ll focus on some of our favourites and highlight these.
36 minutes | 5 months ago
NewTechKids with Deborah Carter
In this episode, I am talking to Deborah Carter about New Tech Kids - it’s a technology academy in Amsterdam which teaches primary school aged kids about tech innovation.Deborah is the CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR of NewTechKids. In 2014, she made the leap into entrepreneurship to launch NewTechKids. With a son enrolled in Dutch primary school, she looked around for a place where he and other children could fall in love with technological innovation and computer science and learn how to be innovators and inventors. When she couldn’t find it, she decided to create it.NewTechKids is a technology academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands which teaches primary school aged kids about technological innovation: computer science, programming, design and critical thinking about the implication of technology. NewTechKids teaches during school, after school and during school vacations. They even teach overseas in places like the Middle East and Switzerland.
20 minutes | 5 months ago
Scoutlab with Johannes Engelke
In this episode, I am talking to Johannes Engelke, the initiator of ScoutLab. ScoutLab is part of a German scouting club and organizes workshops and events around topics such as the internet, electronics or the maker movement.Full disclosure, Johannes is a long-time colleague at SAP and the idea for this episode arose during a coffee corner chat. Johannes Engelke is also a Scout since his 10th birthday. He started in a small group in Hamburg where he also did his first steps as a group leader. Later he started digitizing the German VCP Scouts. He helped building Websites, doing social media and organized the office IT in Hamburg. His current mission is to integrate digital topics into the education curriculum of young scouts.At SAP Labs Munich, Johannes engages in a local initiative called STEAM Kids that teaches kids the basics of coding during one day workshops at SAP.
23 minutes | 5 months ago
Foldio with Amir Baradaran
I am talking to Amir Baradaran, the CEO and Co-Founder of Foldio. Foldio creates foldable educational toys that work with the well-known Calliope Mini board.Amir is part of the founding team of Foldio, a company that has its roots at the University of Saarland, Germany. A small team of student researchers took on the challenge to create an educational system that includes paper-based printed circuit boards. Printed circuit boards are essential for modern day electronics and computers, but normally these are quite stiff and non-flexible boards. The team at Foldio researched how these electric circuits can be printed onto normal paper, which has the benefit that you can fold it and thereby create stunning 3d shapes with a bit of hand-crafting. Paper is obviously quite cheap, but more importantly it’s a material that kids are very familiar with. Foldio is combining a well-known material, paper, with circuits and sensors to teach kids computer science. Their products work in combination with the Calliope Mini educational board, which is well-known here in Germany and by now sold globally as well. Their first product - the foldio starter kit - includes instructions for several so-called missions for the kids and also some information for the parents. Also included are of course the colorful paper-based circuit boards.
26 minutes | 5 months ago
Momentix Toys with Anna Gilbertson and Alana Aamodt
In this episode, I am talking to Anna Gilbertson and Alana Aamodt from Momentix Toys. They make toys that use chain reaction machines to teach critical STEAM skills to kids 7 and up.My two interviewees make up the founding team of Momentix Toys - Anna and Alana. They met in college while studying physics and that’s also where the idea for Momentix first came up and started to develop.Momentix Toys has been kickstarted early 2020 is still quite on track despite the Corona Pandemic. I cannot wait to try it out, really. Momentix Toys is all about building chain reaction machines to teach STEM skills. Kids can build chain reaction machines using the building blocks that are provided, then they combine it with typical household items and - voila - there’s a chain reaction machine that waits to be tried out.
21 minutes | 6 months ago
Blockly with Neil Fraser
22 minutes | 6 months ago
MicroBlocks with Bernat Romagosa
This episode features an interview with Bernat Romagosa about MicroBlocks, which can be used to program common educational boards such as the BBC micro:bit, Calliope Mini or the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express.So what is MicroBlocks all about? MicroBlocks is a new programming language inspired by Scratch, that runs right inside microcontroller boards such as the BBC micro:bit, the Calliope Mini or Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express.After installing the MicroBlocks editor and flashing the MicroBlocks firmware once, you can quickly upload new code or change existing programs - it’s just takes a second. Of course, the usual suspects for visual coding blocks are available, such as various logic blocks, loops, blocks for controlling the input and output of the micro:bit such as the input pins and LEDs or various math blocks.
32 minutes | 6 months ago
DroneBlocks with Dennis Baldwin
This episode features an interview with Dennis Baldwin, the creator of DroneBlocks. DroneBlocks teaches STEM and the real-world application of drone technology.Droneblocks is block-based programming for drones. After connecting the Wifi of a Laptop. Tablet or Smartphone, the students can connect to the drone and run their missions. Missions are sets of blocks, typically beginning with a takeoff, followed by various commands such as fly forward, yaw right, etc. and finally - of course - you want to land the drone. With drones such as the Ryzerobotics Tello and some indoor propeller guards, you can easily perform an indoor workshop with a whole class of kids.
26 minutes | 6 months ago
Tinkertoys with Sebastian Friedrich
In this episode, we’re talking to Sebastian Friedrich, the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinkertoys. Tinkertoys allows kids to design their own toys online which will then be 3D printed and delivered to their homes. So what is Tinkertoys all about? In short, it’s all about showing kids what they are capable of constructing. Using Tinkertoys, kids can create their own toys via an easy to use web-based editor. Once a design is finished, you can choose to have it produced by Tinkertoys and delivered right to your home. If you own a 3D printer, you can also choose to download the 3D model files free of charge and print them at home. Besides offering these 3D construction and printing services for parents and their kids, Tinkertoys now also offers special licenses, webinars and management software for schools and teachers.
24 minutes | 6 months ago
Save the World with Code with Lorraine Underwood
In this episode, I am talking to Lorraine Underwood about her book Save the World with Code. It’s a book filled with great projects for the Raspberry PI, Adafruit Circuit Playground and the BBC micro:bit. Lorraine is originally from Ireland and now lives in the UK with her husband and two young boys. She is a trained secondary school teacher in Information Communication Technology and currently works at Lancaster University as a Senior Teaching Associate, teaching Applied and Creative Computing to undergraduate students.Her book - Save the World with Code - that just recently got published in May 2020, includes 20 fun projects for the Raspberry Pi, the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express and the BBC micro:bit. She’s really chosen the top educational boards out there with the biggest communities - that’s a guarantee for a lot of fun and if needed excellent support, too. And the really cool thing is that very often you can choose which tool to use for the particular project - so for most of the 20 projects, you get to choose which computing board you want to use!
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