Category: STEAM projects

superhero prosthetics by kids, for kids


The Superhero Cyborgs program, run by KIDmob and Autodesk, invited 10-year old Jordan to design and build her prosthetic super hero arm.

FastCompany writes:

“The program connects children with upper-limb differences with professional engineers so that they can design and create their own custom-made prosthetics that do, well, whatever the kids want them to do.”

In the case of Jordan, that arm was a glitter cannon. Read more at Fast Company.

Attaching lights to shoes

Here’s a piece of science and engineering that I think will appeal to kids. A San Francisco area group of friends has produced “Blinky Shoes.”

With a few simple components, highlighted below, and some clever engineering, the team has come up with a strip of LED lights you can attach to any pair of shoes. The “installation” is not permanent, so you can switch the lights to other pairs of shoes.

Blinky shoes create light through an accelerometer–which detects taps and kicks as commands to light up. Find out more about Blinky Shoes on their blinky shoes kick-starter campaign page…It’s not a plea for money; they already met the goal (and their stretch goal) and the campaign in closed. Blinky shoes will be available shortly.

special "live" dancing cross walk sign

Get kids interested in tech with this dancing traffic light

dancing-walk-signalYou know we’re interested in the combination of “art” with science and technology, so we loved this project which hacks the traditional “green man” signal for walking across an intersection. This Smart Company (as in Smart Car) project hooked the “man” up to motion capture of an individual dancing in a nearby booth.

Many people went in to the booth and the dances were broadcast to the pedestrian light in real time. The idea was to improve safety by helping people wait for the light before crossing. The dancing made waiting less boring and more entertaining. And it worked; 81% more people stopped at the traffic light, and enjoyed it, according to this short video about the project.

From a sustainability standpoint, we like technology that makes life better for pedestrians and cyclists.

My kids loved the video but be aware, the music has a bad word (a**, as in “shake your…”).

Engineering your own doll’s house

Writing for IEEE (“I triple E”), Tekla Perry mentions a couple of toys aimed at introducing kids to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Worth listening to since few organizations are more serious about energy and electronics than the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Roominate wants girls to be artists, architects and engineers…

First, Roominate is a kit that lets kids design and build a wired doll’s house. The wiring enables lights, fans, and sounds (doorbell). Kids can build furniture too, and there are even dolls to live in the house. I hope they add some solar panels and maybe even let the “fan” double as a simulated “wind turbine.” Oh, and what about rain barrels, roof gardens, and other sustainable touches?

Inspecting the current flow using the Light Up app.

Second is Light Up, a kit of magnetically connectable circuit board components, not unlike Littlebits (which we wrote about before in a post on 8 tech learning toys and games). One difference is that Light Up also has an app that uses the camera to analyze your construction and show current flow or help you troubleshoot. The lightup blog offers projects ideas and instructions to follow.

Have any good toys to add to the list? Have you tried either of these toys? Tell us in the comments. If you find these posts useful sign up for our newsletter.