There’s only a few days left to be part of the Kickstarter campaign for the Wink STEM robot. Who doesn’t love robots? What parent doesn’t want their child to know programming? This system should make learning fun.
Wink STEM robot goes beyond the graphical programming tools some children are already doing like Scratch and Lego Mindstorm programming to doing actual written code. The small robot is capable of a wide variety of simple tasks, including line following, light seeking and barrier detection using sensors. From the basic tasks one graduates to combining them to such activities as maze navigation. The aim the designers intended was to make Wink to be fun for everyone.
Wink is based on the Arduino UNO with 8-bit processor (Atmel ATMega328p ). Code for the robot learning is written using the Arduino IDE which is free and open source. There are featured two fast motors that can go backwards and forward independent of each other. Two RGB eyes can produce any color at any brightness. Three ambient light sensors can detect and follow illumination in front of the robot (just like when your kitty follows a laser light). In addition, an IR light under Wink’s “nose” helps the robot see and avoid barriers. An onboard 240 mAh LiPo rechargeable battery provides hours of fun and learning. A charge in progress LED tells you when it is completely charged.
OK, so maybe it isn’t all about fun. There is an accompanying free and open curriculum of lesson plans, progressing from basic functionality to complex and creative tasks that leverage the device’s full potential. Kickstarter funds will enable the Plum Geek team to complete about 20 lessons, along with companion videos for each one. Lesson One is “Quick introduction to the Arduino programming interface”. It will eventually take you into Boolean operators and arrays. “Wink is perfect for classrooms, after school programs, STEM clubs, workshops and maker/hacker space events,” said Plum Geek’s Founder Kevin King. “Plus, instructors aren’t required to understand code to use our lesson plans.”
The team behind Plum Geek has been designing and manufacturing electronics and radio systems for other industries for over six years. Earlier this year in May they had another Kickstarter campaign for Ringo which they called a cute Arduino based digital pet robot. Since Wink is based on Ringo (and they got all the productions kinks out on that campaign), early backers in the U.S. will likely receive their robots before Christmas. The remaining Kickstarter backer units will ship through January of next year. Either way, it sounds like a great gift for the Geek child (young or older) in your life.