Ad Astra Solutions
Designed by Andrew Hernandez, Karl Bradley Saclolo, Amanda Sharpe
Mentored by Steven Durie, Shahab Ardalan
K8 is a customizable toy that teaches children the basics of programming. Users would be able to choose different inputs such as buttons and a microphone which would then correspond to particular outputs such as lights and sounds. Users would also be able to download new sounds or light patterns by sharing with other users from the cloud. The toy would come with an app tutorial which would teach the children how to use and program the robot. Additionally the games would unlock new phrases or light patterns which could be used on the new robot.
Young children, especially girls, would be the target demographic for this product since it is important to introduce the STEAM fields and generate interest at a young age. Educators would also take an interest since it would allow them to introduce the basics of programming to their class in a way that is fun and interactive.
Programming is often overlooked when it comes to toys for children due to its complexity and high learning curve. However, by disguising programming as play, it lowers the barrier of entry and encourages children to tackle the problem for their own enjoyment. Educators would also appreciate this since young children like to play more than doing actual learning in the classroom. Getting girls interested in the STEM fields is an especially pressing problem and this product could be a great boon in that respect.
LEGO has its Mindstorms set which allows children to create a robot out of legos then use a computer to program its “brain.” There are many similar toys along this vein currently in production. Another popular product is Roominate which is is a configurable and rebuildable dollhouse which teaches some basics of engineering. Goldie Blox is a product which links a book with with physical toys to build simple machines using engineering concepts.
The beauty of K8 is that it gives children a specific character to relate to while still allowing them to learn engineering concepts. Programming the character allows children to have an emotional connection which is something that other similar products in the market lack.