Category Archives: Young Makers

Pen

3Doodler Start is a child-safe 3D printing pen


Kids can now draw their own 3D creations in thin air.


With aspirations of bring 3D printing to the everyday consumer, the WobbleWorks team launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund its 3Doodler 3D printing pen back in 2013. This handheld device lets Makers draw in mid-air or on most surfaces, heating and solidifying plastic material so that the thing being drawn is able to come to life as an actual object.

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And after upgrading its pen in 2015, which yet again garnered more than $1.5 million on Kickstarter, the Boston-based startup has returned with a child-friendly version of its popular drawing tool, which will enable those ages 8 to 13 to explore their creativity beyond using just crayons and paper. Instead, the 3Doodler Start will allow children to design their own figurines, art, jewelry and pretty much any other 3D model that comes to mind. This should come as great news to parents, because let’s face it, the sight of a discarded toys is all too common these days.

“3Doodler Start inspires creativity, design, building and spatial understanding, opening up 3D creation to a whole new generation. This is not a fad toy; we believe that, like LEGO and now Minecraft, the 3Doodler Start will become part of every kid’s upbringing,” company co-founder Daniel Cowen explains. 

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The most notable thing about the 3Doodler Start, however, is that has no hot parts, and uses an environmentally-friendly filament that melts with barely any heat. Just pick up the single-temperature, one-speed device and it’s ready to go. Click once on its main orange button to extrude the plastic automatically, click again to stop, and double click to reverse the plastic — it’s as simple as that. Meanwhile, LEDs will indicate warming up, ready, forward flow and reverse.

The 3Doodler Start dispenses with the conventional pen shape, but has adopted a shorter, thicker and more ergonomically-designed frame that’s suitable for smaller hands. Weighing under a quarter of a pound and measuring 5.4” x 1.4”, the turquoise unit can operate wirelessly for 45 minutes per charge or run while plugged in via a micro-USB port.

“The core values of 3Doodler are creative freedom and limitless imagination, so it was a natural progression to create a pen for a younger audience. The 3Doodler Start provides the perfect educational platform for kids around the world and we cannot wait to see what the next generation creates,” Cowen adds.

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What’s also nice is that those just starting out can follow along with what’s called a DoodleBlock, which is similar to a 3D coloring book and allows users to draw in grooves to form a shape, then pop them out. Once they’ve traced all the pieces, they can then use their 3Doodler Start to join them together to form a finished three-dimensional creation.

Does this sound like the 3D printing instrument for your youngsters or perhaps even you? Head over to WobbleWorks’ page here to get your hands on one today.

 

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High school student creates a smart wearable for Parkinson’s patients


OneRing monitors motor distortions and generates patient reports.


After school activities for the average high school student typically entails sports practices, music lessons and homework; but creating a smart medical device for a disease that affects 10 million people seems unlikely. That’s not the case for Cupertino High School sophomore Utkarsh Tandon. Tandon is the founder of OneRing, an intelligent tool for monitoring Parkinson’s disease.

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OneRing is a wearable that captures movement data from a patient, algorithmically identifies Parkinson’s tremor patterns and classifies the severity. Tandon first became interested in studying the disease when he watched a video of Muhammad Ali, who has Parkinson’s, light the Olympic torch in 1996. After volunteering at a local Parkinson’s institute, the 15-year-old decided to build a company that focuses on improving the lives of those affected by this movement disorder. He began working on signal processing and machine learning algorithms, before evolving the concept and founded OneRing.

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OneRing quantifies Parkinson’s disease movements and its mobile app leverages the data collected to generate smart patient reports that physicians can use to better prescribe medication. At the core of the device is its machine learning technology. The OneRing has been trained to model various Parkinson’s motor patterns such as dyskinesia, bradykinesia and tremors. A Bluetooth module encased inside the 3D-printed plastic ring allows it to communicate with its accompanying iOS app to provide time-stamped analytics about the patient’s movement severity during the day.

The ring itself currently comes in three sizes, each varying in diameter: 18mm, 19mm and 20 mm. Tandon and his team hope to develop a “one-size-fits-all” piece in the near future.

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With this Kickstarter campaign, Tandon hopes to deploy OneRing to a local Parkinson’s institute where the device can be used in exams and sent home with patients. Ultimately he wants to bring OneRing to patients all around the world in hopes of suppressing the condition’s rapid progression. Interested in the cause? Head over to the OneRing project page, where Tandon and his team have already doubled their pledged goal of $1,500.

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Maker creates his own life-size BB-8


17-year-old Angelo Casimiro decided to build a fully-functional, smartphone-controlled BB-8.


Until Episode VII came out, if you were a true Star Wars fan, building a working R2-D2 replica would seem like the thing to do. With the emergence of BB-8, R2 now has competition for the coolest robot in the galaxy, and for which droid you should recreate.

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At first glance the BB-8, with its continuously-rotating body and a head that always stays nearly upright, looks like something that could only be made with computer graphics on a movie set. 17-year-old Maker Angelo Casimiro, however, proves that isn’t the case with his life-size, phone-controlled toy. The best part of it all? According to his exhaustive tutorial, the project should cost only around $120 — a little less than Sphero’s miniature device.

The physics student from De La Salle University in the Philippines was able to purchase most of the items from a hardware store while recycling pretty much everything else, like a Christmas ball for its eye, an old Wi-Fi router antenna, and roll-on deodorant balls for the mechanism of the droid’s head to keep it upright. BB-8’s head is made from styrofoam, and the body is a beach ball reinforced with papier-mâché.

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The secret to his BB-8 build is that inside the sphere is a two-wheeled vehicle. When it moves, this vehicle rolls around inside, changing the ball’s center of gravity and causing it to go across the floor. (Think of it like a giant hamster ball.) The head, in turn, is stuck to the top of the spherical body via a structure inside of the ball made out of wood and magnets. Control is accomplished using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a motor shield and a Bluetooth module, which allows it to take signals from a smartphone via the “Arduino Bluetooth RC Car” app. There’s even an MP3 module and speaker that enables it to beep and talk just like in the film.

Though the concept of this bot is likely simpler than what you would have thought it would take to produce one of these, it still took a lot of work from several people to get things perfect! If you’d like to try it yourself, Casimiro has provided a detailed overview video, as well as a 47-step tutorial over on Instructables.

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Qtechknow’s Qduino Mini is now available


The Qduino Mini is the first tiny Arduino-compatible board with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge.


Adding to 15-year-old Quin Etnyre’s already rather long list of accomplishments was a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign back in March 2015. The Qduino Mini — which has been on display numerous times inside the Atmel Maker Faire booths — is the first tiny Arduino-compatible board equipped with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge that can notify its user when a LiPo needs a little extra juice.

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“I always struggled to find a way to charge and monitor a battery, bundle with an Arduino and fit inside of every project.” Inspired by his own frustrations, the young Maker immediately went on to prototype his concept with hopes of one day bringing it to market.

Now available on SparkFun, the Qduino Mini is entirely open source and based on the versatile ATmega32U4 — the very same chip that can be found at the core of the Arduino Leonardo and several other Arduino AtHeart devices. The breadboard-friendly MCU runs at 8MHz at 3.3V and boasts plenty of dedicated digital, analog and PWM pins.

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The pint-sized project is not only packed with a battery charger circuit and fuel gauge, but possesses an uber-mini, ultra-thin form factor as well. This makes the shrunken-down, lightweight ‘duino an ideal choice for DIY quadcopter or high-altitude balloon projects, in addition to a wide range of other gadgets like an NFC Smart Lock and B&W Selfie Printer.

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Since its inception, the Qduino Mini has received a few minor upgrades before arriving at its latest iteration. According to Quin, these included two RGB LEDs (one for status, another that’s user programmable), a USB and power switch on the same face, and a LiPo connector on the opposite side of the board. What’s more, it has become even more “mini,” having been reduced from its original 1″ x 1.5” size to 0.8″ x 1.5”.

Sound like the tiny, Arduino-compatible board you’ve been looking for? Well, look no more as the Qduino Mini is available for $29.95 on SparkFun!

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Rewind: 27 STEM kits from 2015


These STEM toys from 2015 are helping to inspire the next generation of Makers.


STEM education has been a growing venture in schools across the country, with even the President himself making it a priority to encourage students as young as grade-school to pursue the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. After all, these fields are changing the world rapidly within the areas of innovation, economic growth and employment. But let’s face it; these subjects don’t come easy to everyone, so how do we instill STEM in kids?

With this in mind, many startups have sought out new and exciting ways to entice the younger generation to explore their creativity and develop an interest in hands-on learning. Testament to that, here are several products from 2015 looking to inspire the next generation of Makers.

littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets

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The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox, complete with motors, wheels, lights , switches, servos, buzzers and even the tools to build a remote control.

Jewelbots

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Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets that teach girls the basics of coding.

Thimble

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Thimble is a monthly subscription service that delivers fun electronic projects with guided tutorials and a helpful community.

Touch Board Starter Kit

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Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Starter Kit contains everything you need to transform surfaces, objects or spaces into sensors.

Makey Makey GO

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Small enough to fit on your keychain, backpack or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the Internet. Say hello to the world’s first invention kit.

RePhone

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RePhone from Seeed Studio allows Makers to create a phone themselves in minutes and hack a new way to communicate with things.

mBot

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mBot is an all-in-one, Arduino-compatible robot that supports wireless communication and employs Scratch 2.0-like coding.

Ringo

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Ringo is a miniature digital pet robot equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrosocope, six RGB LEDs, as well as sound and communication sensors.

Wink

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Wink is an Arduino-driven robot designed to help transition students from graphical programming to more powerful written code languages. It’s also the sibling of the aforementioned Ringo.

Kano

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Kano is a computer and coding kit for all ages that’s as simple as LEGO, powered by Raspberry Pi.

Primo Cubetto

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Primo Cubetto is a smart wooden robot designed to teach kids the basics of coding away from the screen.

Petduino

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Petduino puts a DIY twist on the old-school Tamagotchi.

STEMI

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STEMI is a hexapod that can be built right at home and controlled via smartphone.

mCookie

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mCookies are quarter-sized, stackable modules from Microduino that enable young Makers to bring their LEGO projects to life.

Modulo

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Modulo is a set of tiny modular circuit boards that takes the hassle out of electronics.

The Crafty Robot

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The Crafty Robot is a paper toy unlike any other — plug it into a USB port for 30 seconds, unplug it and you’ve got a moving robot.

Kamigami

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Kamigami is an origami-style robot you can construct and program by yourself. Each one can be configured with a unique set of behaviors and characteristics through a drag-and-drop interface.

Phiro

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Phiro is a LEGO-compatible robotics toy that children can play with, code and innovate in various ways.

Quirkbot

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With Quirkbot, young Makers can devise and configure quirky robots (hence its name), blinking outfits and weird sounding creatures out of regular drinking straws.

Cannybots

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Cannybots are LEGO-compatible, smart toy cars that introduce kids to the worlds of robotics, programming and 3D printing.

3DRacers

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3DRacers is a Mario Kart-like indoor racing game that lets anyone design and 3D print their own car.

Volta Flyer

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Volta Flyer is the world’s first DIY airplane kit that is solely powered by the sun.

Roby

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Roby is a 3D-printed robotic machine that not only drives on four wheels, but can walk on two. If it falls, it can even pick itself up again with its pair of arms.

O Watch

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O Watch is a DIY smartwatch for a kid, by a kid.

LocoRobo

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LocoRobo is a cute, inexpensive robot capable of being wirelessly programmed.

KamiBot

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KamiBot is a programmable, smartphone-controlled paper robot.

Pixel Pals

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Pixel Pals are easy-to-build, fun educational kits that grow from a project to a friend you can program.

Fiat Lux

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Fiat Lux is an Arduino-compatible kit specifically designed for unique wearable projects.

AZIBOt

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AZIBOt is an open source, 3D-printed robot kit for STEM education in Africa.

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Rewind: 12 young Makers to watch in 2016


It’s safe to say, the future looks bright! 


Over the last couple of years, the Maker Movement has ushered in a new wave of low-cost hardware that enables anyone of any age and skill level to begin tinkering. Easy-to-use boards like the Arduino continue to lower the barriers to entry, while simplifying the prototyping process. Ultimately, this allows kids to explore basic electronics, learn coding, pursue STEM-related disciplines, and in some cases, even start their own business.

Here are a few young Makers from 2015 that prove age is just a number when it comes to innovation…

Omkar Govil-Nair (O Watch)

Do you recall what you were doing back in the summer of fourth grade? Chances are you weren’t creating a programmable, SAM D21-based smartwatch like eight-year-old Omkar Govil-Nair, let alone launching a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Quin Etnyre (Qtechknow)

Quin Etnyre already has quite the resume for a 15-year-old. After discovering his passion for tech, the self-taught whiz-kid has created his own company Qtechknow, taught classes at MIT, been invited to the White House and garnered over $40,000 on Kickstarter all within three years. Most recently, he introduced a tiny Arduino-compatible board complete with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge.

Jordan Fung (Pedosa Glass)

What do you do when you’re a 13-year-old app developer who doesn’t have the money to shell out for a new pair of Google Glass? You build your own, of course! Hong Kong resident Jordan Fung devised a smart glasses attachment powered by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) that shows him data and control information via a tiny FLCoS display.

Shubham Banerjee (Braigo Labs)

Eighth grader Shubham Banerjee constructed a braille printer entirely out of LEGO as a way to improve access and literacy for the visually impaired. More impressively, his startup Braigo Labs received venture capital funding from Intel late last year.

John Wall (WΛLLTΞCH)

17-year-old John Wall loves crafting his own open source wearable gadgetry. From OLED watches to Bluetooth/NFC bone-conduction audio headsets, the future Stanford grad has done it all.

Chase Freedman (Brick Sound Kit)

“What if there was a way to record our own sounds and play them back whenever we flew our LEGO spaceship?” This was the simple question that prompted eight-year-old Chase Freedman to explore his imagination and develop an attachable, Arduino-friendly device that lets kids record or download sounds to enhance their playtime experience.

 Sahar Khashayar (Wildfire Warning System)

Jimmy Fallon welcomed 14-year-old Sahar Khashayar onto his show earlier this year. The ninth grade student had the chance to demonstrate her inexpensive device capable of detecting wildfires (and house fires, too) and sending a text alert to emergency personnel before flames rage out of control.

Nick Anglin (Strikey Sensors)

During a Maker Camp last summer, 13-year-old Nick Anglin noticed that there was a void in the market for Little Leaguers looking to learn how to pitch accurately. Whereas most middle schoolers would simply draw a rectangular box out of chalk on a brick or concrete wall and then proceed to throw the ball at the makeshift strike zone, this Maker decided to take a much more high-tech route with the help of lasers and Arduino.

Nilay Mehta (Low-Cost Robotic Arm)

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With the help of 3D printing and Arduino, Nilay Mehta was able to build an inexpensive, voice-controlled robotic arm. The Irvine, California high school student programmed the unit to mimic the movements of an actual human hand, such as pinching, grabbing or holding a utensil. Using voice commands through a two prong microphone attached to the limb, the arm can carry out specific actions at the request of its wearer.

Aidan Fay (Cockpit Simulator)

What do you do if you’re a 17-year-old whose aspirations of flying an airplane have been grounded by the FAA due to a pre-existing medical condition? Having been interested in aviation for quite some time and still determined to one day earn his Class 3 pilot’s license, Aidan Fay decided to design a full-scale Cessna 172 simulator right in his bedroom. And unlike other computer programs and video games available today, the San Diego-based Maker wanted a system that would take his training to whole new heights. His life-size cockpit includes everything from pedals that control actual airplane rudders and brakes, to a steering yoke, to an Oculus Rift running Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D software for a truly immersive experience.

Emmett White (PineDuino)

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As seen at the Westport Maker Faire, second grader Emmett White came up with a Pinewood Derby car that uses an Arduino Nano, an accelerometer and an LED display to collect and display information as it travels.

Guillaume Rolland (SensorWake)

Wake up and smell the coffee, literally. This is what Guillaume Rolland, an 18-year-old French entrepreneur, set out to accomplish with the world’s first olfactory alarm clock. The unit awakens its user with a scent rather than an abrupt audio alarm.

Bricks

Bring your LEGO projects to life with the Brick Sound Kit


This rocket-shaped device will add motion-activated sound effects to any LEGO or Mega Bloks project. 


“What if there was a way to record our own sounds and play them back whenever we flew our Lego spaceship?” This was the simple question that prompted eight-year-old Chase Freedman to explore his imagination and resulted in the conception of the Brick Sound Kit — an attachable device that allows users to record or download sounds to enhance their playing experience.

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Instead of having to actually make the typical “whoosh,””pew pew” and “pow pow” noises  yourself, the Brick Sound Kit enables children (and those who are still kids at heart) to transform their toys into interactive machines. Recreating your favorite scenes from Star Wars has never been so much fun!

The BSK is built around an Arduino-friendly board equipped with an ATmega328, LEDs, light-up buttons, a AAA battery and a gyroscope, all protected by a highly durable, rocket-shaped enclosure. This casing not only functions as a standalone toy, it can easily snap onto anything you build with Lego, Mega Bloks, Kre-O and other compatible brick building sets.

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Freedman’s innovation is ready for use right out of the box. What’s more, it can be paired over Bluetooth with the accompanying BSK Sound Effects App, along with other apps and games to add more interaction to the your bricks in just minutes.

And that’s not all. The Brick Sound Kits includes an FTDI USB adapter and cable so you can reprogram the gadget’s capabilities using free Arduino tools. Open source SDKs let anyone build their own apps and games controlled by the BSK. All programming is super simple for users of any age or skill, and will be supported by the team through a developer portal.

The young Maker didn’t do this all by himself; in fact, he collaborated with his father, Chuck, to bring the idea to life — and now Kickstarter. After receiving enormous amounts of great feedback from friends and family, the duo looked into how they could commercialize the invention and make it something that other people could use. The two ended up contracting Boston University Electronics Design Facility to develop the kit’s circuit board and Clear Design Lab of Boston to design the housing.

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“The Brick Sound Kit is not only a device for kids. It was also developed to be used by enthusiasts and collectors, that want to enhance the device even further and create their own programs and sounds. All this comes together in a marketplace where sounds, apps and games can be exchanged between Brick Sound Kit users and developers,” dad explains.

Are you ready to make the spaceship of your dreams? Then fly on over to the Brick Sound Kit’s Kickstarter campaign, where the father-son duo is currently seeking $18,000. Amazingly, Chase is actually the second eight-year-old Maker to launch a crowdfunding campaign this year. Over the summer, Omkar Govil-Nair debuted his O Watch, which went on to garner more than $18,000.