Kickstarter Alert: Learn to Program With an Adorable Little Robot Called Wink

Computing Education Electronics Geek Culture Kickstarter Reviews Robotics Software Technology
The Wink robots. Image courtesy Plum Geek.
The Wink robots. Image courtesy Plum Geek.

The latest project to help teach kids (or adults) learn to code is just finishing up on Kickstarter, but there’s still a bit of time left to get in on it.

New to crowdfunding? Check out our primer.

Wink, GeekDad’s newest sponsor, is a tiny robot built on the Arduino platform. It’s a bit larger than a quarter and includes motors, LED lights, light sensors, sound, and more. But what makes Wink special isn’t the robot itself, but rather the tools that come with it. The robot has all of the capabilities one would expect: you can change the color of the eyes, get it to move around, follow paths, detect when its path is blocked, and the like.

A Wink moving along a path. Image courtesy Plum Geek.
A Wink moving along a path. Image courtesy Plum Geek.

Wink is designed specifically to help teach coding skills. Its Kickstarter page says that the goal of the project is to bridge the gap between graphical programming on things like Scratch and writing real code.

I haven’t yet been able to lay hands on the actual robot, but the Kickstarter page has links to several of the lesson plans, and, as someone who teaches introduction to programming courses, I can say that what I see looks really good. The lesson plans are laid out nicely and appear easy-to-follow, something that is surprisingly rare. It’s clear that the team behind Wink takes the educational side of their project very seriously, and, if the rest of what they produce follows this pattern, Wink is going to be a great project. I have backed it myself and I can’t wait to introduce it to my own kids, but, even more than that, I plan to try to use it the next time I teach one of those intro to programming classes.

The project is already funded more than 14x their goal, but the Kickstarter ends on Tuesday, November 17, so if you want in on the first round of these cute little robots, you’ll want to jump over to their project page without delay. They also just added some interesting stretch goals, including getting some of their educations development kits out to schools so the kids can learn with them. Sounds good to us!

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