We see a lot of educational electronics kits launch through crowdfunding, and they’re all designed to help your children learn about electronics and programming while they develop an interest in STEM. But, with so many kits on the market, it can be difficult to pick one. Agilo Research’s STEMpedia just launched on Indiegogo, but is it the right choice for your kid?
The STEMpedia Starter Kit is intended for children (or curious adults) ages 8 and up. It comes with all of the electronic components necessary for dozens of unique projects, programming tools, and access to an interactive online learning course. With it, kids can do everything from blink LEDs — and learn the electronic principles behind how that works — to build exciting projects like a fruit piano and a robot.
The brain of the kit, the evive, is based on an Arduino Mega 2560. It provides plug-and-play connections, a TFT display, basic control inputs, and even a built-in breadboard. Components and modules can then be connected to evive to expand it’s functionality, and kids can program evive through a graphical programmer called PictoBlox, which is built on Scratch. Finished projects can be controlled through a smartphone app.
But, is it right for you kid? Agilo Research sent me a Starter Kit to try out, and I immediately handed it off to my girlfriend to test. She’s interested in electronics, but not experienced with them, and she’s also a fifth grade math and science teacher — perfect for evaluating a product like this. She spent a couple days with evive, and her experience was mixed.
Aside from some small glitches and a few inconsistencies in the guides, which will probably be worked out in production, the hardware was comprehensive and worked well. However, following along with the guides was challenging. This isn’t the kind of educational toy that kids can snap together in a few minutes — it takes time to understand.
Personally, I think that’s a good thing and children should learn about “real” electronics. Too many competitors’ products are easy to build, but don’t teach any substantial skills. Even so, she says this kind of kit is probably only suited to particularly gifted children who won’t become frustrated too easily, and it would be beneficial to have a knowledgeable adult around to help them along.
If you want a STEMpedia evive Starter Kit for your kid, the Indiegogo campaign is running until March 14th. Super early birds can get a complete kit for $169, and estimated delivery is in May.