KINI’s complete ecosystem of tools and support assists K-8 educators in tailoring STEM/STEAM robotics activities to individual student needs and interests.
The software industry moves quickly. The educational system, not so much. Yet computers are part of the daily fabric for kids, and programming skills are increasingly important, even for those not planning to become software engineers. Most K-8 math and science educators have not taught coding before, and it is difficult to rewrite and maintain the curriculum to keep up with new computer programming languages.
The founders of Colmakers realized that educators needed a helping hand, an ecosystem of tools and support to create customized learning experiences for their students, tailored to students’ individual needs and interests. The solution is KINI, a small robot with multiple sensors that can be easily controlled with no prior knowledge or experience.
Those in the earliest stages can drive and power the robot with a virtual joystick on their device. The kids would then progress to drag and drop Blockly programming that uses logic. They might program KINI to move forward if the distance from the robot to an object is less than or equal to 10 centimeters, or stop if it isn’t. As the children advance, they can learn Java, C+ programming or other software languages through KINI. The robot’s internal API allows it to respond to coding in any programming language.
Teachers gain access to the Colmakers activity guide, with activities like learning how an airplane works, or tying together the similarities between how robots and animals sense things in similar ways. Bats use ultrasound to measure distance, and sensors do something similar. The KINI activities connect to existing school science curricula and include discussion questions to guide the teacher.
Schools vary in how they use the KINI in the classroom. An Ontario Montessori school focuses on teamwork, using three robots per class so the kids can work together. Another Ontario school dedicates one KINI per student, so each can progress at their own rate.
While there are other robotics educational toys in the market, KINI is compatible with any connected device, like a smart phone, tablet or computer. KINI also uses Wi-Fi, which is more robust and reliable than the Bluetooth technology some robots employ.
The KINI robot uses 12 sensors, increasing the number of programming projects and educational opportunities for kids. The sensors allow the students to orient the robot as it determines where it is compared to other objects nearby. Other sensors can detect temperature, light, distance, speed, and lines.
The company name, Colmakers, encapsulates the spirit its founders envision for the robot: collaboration between makers. Kids, and even the adults working with them, can improve their understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) through their engagement with KINI.