Wearable Toy Teaches Programming #WearableWednesday
What kid doesn’t enjoy LEDs? This wearable modular prototype found on TechCrunch will allow kids to design their own pieces that blink and buzz. Called Linkitz, they are the creation of Lyssa Neel, an MIT doctorate with a passion for programming. If they look fun, it’s because there were some young women involved with the research — Neel’s daughters.
I bought them ‘engineering toys’ when they were in elementary school, but many of them devolve into solitary building activities, which is not the way my girls wanted to play. They were very social and very interested in friendship and doing things with friends. So, I decided to try to start with things that my girls liked to do, and add technology into those games.
It is apparent that Neel is trying to tackle the big problem faced by many trying to advocate for STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Mathematics). Young women are not getting the right activities and messages to continue in these areas in middle school and upper school. Linkitz will offer a visual programming language that is age appropriate, and the way the links are connected will affect the way the links behave. So, hopefully this toy will be one that bridges that critical period of learning for young women.
The product is off to a great start, recently winning the N100 Startup Competition in Ontario, Canada. The Linkitz team will be off to Shenzen, China, to learn about manufacturing next. So, you will have to wait for a while to get a set for your kids. However, why not get them started with a simple project like our LED Friendship Bracelet. It’s a simple project that uses a magnetic clasp to complete the circuit. Your kids will be bragging like they’re regulars on Big Bang Theory.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.