Tag Archives: Quirkbot

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


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



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

Touch Board Starter Kit


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

Makey Makey GO


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



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



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



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

Primo Cubetto


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



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



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



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



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

The Crafty Robot


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



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



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

Volta Flyer


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



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


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



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



KamiBot is a programmable, smartphone-controlled paper robot.

Pixel Pals


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

Fiat Lux


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



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

Quirkbot lets Makers build robots with drinking straws

A hackable toy that makes toys! 

Last January, Strawbees made its debut on Kickstarter. At the time, it was a construction kit that enabled Makers of all ages to create toys by simply connecting drinking straws and pieces of cardboard together. Now a year later, a spinoff project has emerged. The team behind the aptly named Quirkbot is working together with Strawbees to explore a whole new world of robotic creatures.


Using the new DIY platform, young Makers will have the ability to build and program quirky robots, blinking outfits and weird sounding “Qreatures” out of ordinary drinking straws, LEDs and hobby servo motors. Quirkbot itself is based on an ATmega32U4 MCU with an Arduino-compatible bootloader that can be made part of a Strawbees creation without any soldering or breadboarding.

The open-source, hackable tool allows Makers to easily program the bot directly from its website via USB. Quirkbot’s unique drag-and-drop components also enable users to connect and upload their toys with just a click of the mouse.


“Any child or grownup can do it. Let your creations express themselves and interact with their environment through sound, light and motion. Standalone or connected to computers, tablets or musical instruments. You’ll quickly see the potential in learning how to program something physical — the magic of connecting online and offline worlds,” the team shares.

At its most basic level, Quirkbot kits include dual-color LEDs, light sensors, a servo and backpack, as well as a USB cable. Meanwhile, more advanced users can obtain backpack extension sets that feature distance and sound sensors, along with speakers and MIDI capabilities. Adding these components to a project are done through what the team calls “squeeze on electronics.” Just like it sounds, Makers effortlessly squeeze the parts onto the toy’s legs using ordinary drinking straws. So, whether it’s devising a bot that hulas, sweeps, crawls, or rocks out, Makers are only limited by their own imagination.


“The Quirkbot has two ways of doing touch sensing already built-in to make almost anything into an interface. Loop touching for bigger things with water in them like humans and other fruits and capacitive sensing for metallic things. When plugged to a computer, the Quirkbot can work like a keyboard or mouse input. This makes it very easy to program the Quirkbot into a controller for any game or application,” its creators add. “The Quirkbot can also act as a MIDI-device, so it can play with music programs and you can even use it with an iPad.”

Interested in making your own robots with drinking straws? Learn more about and back Quirkbot on its official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $55,000. If all goes to plan, the first batch of shipments is slated for August 2015.