KidsLab is a podcast for parents, educators and everybody interested in STEAM education. STEAM - that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics - all the good stuff! In each episode, your host Sven Haiges introduces an educational project, service or even a toy and speaks to a key person such as one of the creators or founders. From time to time, we also chat with experienced STEAM educators and book authors who share their lessons learnt with us. https://kidslab.dev
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.
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!
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.
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.
KryptoKids with Birgit Schlotter
In this episode, I am talking to Birgit Schlotter about KryptoKids - KryptoKids is German online project and game about online privacy. Birgit is an information technologist and educational expert, focusing on media pedagogy.
Since 2018, she is working at the office of youth media culture in North-Rhine Westfalia, which is a part of Germany. There, her main occupation is around data privacy and security.
KryptoKids is a adventure game for kids from 8 years on about privacy. That’s a topic, that is often overlooked and I am so happy we finally cover this topic also when it comes to STEAM education.
The game involves digital and analog elements - an iPad app combines these elements, so at some point kids have to scan codes with the iPad in their real environment for example.
These are the three main topical blocks covered: data privacy, data security and finally location data.
All the analog material which is required for using KryptoKids is available free of charge on their website. Other options include the rental of all devices and material needed as well as a professional coach that will help delivering the courses.
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.