STEM-related Gifts for Aspiring Engineers

Posted On December 1, 2017 By Proto Labs

With holiday season in full swing, our search for innovation this month explores several STEM-related gifts for aspiring engineers, inventors, and creative thinkers.

Coding. Kano takes a unique approach to teaching children how to code. Its DIY kit comes with all the components kids need to build their very own computer—don’t worry, instructions are included.

Once the computer is built, users work through several coding challenges to learn basic programming concepts and even real languages like Python and Javascript. No technical expertise? Kano is user-friendly enough that you’ll still be able to help out your young engineer or even let them go at it on their own.

As of today, Kano has more than 141,000 devices connected to its network and the platform has helped new coders write more than 35 million lines of code!


Robotics.
litteBits is a simple platform for learning the basics of electronics. The company has a library of modules that can be combined with one another to create anything from a smart home device to a robot—like Legos, but for electronics.

Its latest kit is aimed at Star Wars superfans. It includes several littleBits modules and components to build a customized droid. It also offers several missions, which challenge you to configure the robot in order to navigate obstacles or even draw secret messages. Experimenting with the littleBits module configuration will unlock new abilities for the robot.

And for the especially creative ones out there, littleBits is running a contest searching for the most impressive custom Droid designs.

Electronics. Chibitronics was born out of Jie Qi’s PhD research at the MIT Media Lab focused on improving electronics education. The company’s educational tools combine circuits with paper crafts to give a user-friendly introduction to building and programming circuits.

The Chibi Chip Starter kit combines paper electronics with a storybook, which teaches children how to bring images to life through electronics and coding. As they work through the book, alongside Fern the Frog and Sami the Seal, they’ll learn how to create circuits, light LEDs, and code.

The coding is simple in large part to its web-only environment, which doesn’t require you to install any software. All the code is edited on a smartphone and uploaded to the Chibi Chip using your audio jack. Eye on Innovation is a monthly look at new technology, products, and trends.

Eye on Innovation is a monthly look at new technology, products, and trends.