By Megan Bryant
Photography Kimberlee Miller
Considering how complex the human brain is, it seems that too often we underestimate the abilities of our own minds from time to time. Often overthinking what is within our skill set, or if we can learn new things outside the scope of our daily operations.
When I say “we,” I mean adults. Us older folks who have become relatively set in our ways, and, in the realm of fast-paced, rapidly evolving technology, some of us “old dogs” aren’t as keen on learning the new tricks to stay hip to the trends.
Kids. Now, that’s a different subject. Young minds are hungry for knowledge. They are ripe and ready to bloom; opening the pedals of their comprehension to soak up the rays of information. Young minds are ready to explore and can catch on quickly when processes are broken down into systematic, logical steps.
Nothing beats a hands-on learning experience for kids to swirl together their natural curiosity with play. The passion for teaching young people is palpable for the founders of Idaho Robotics. Husband and wife/business duo, Steven and Amber Roy, are parents of three kids, ages eleven, ten, and eight, were inspired to launch this idea after working with Lego Leagues. They loved the concepts, though the processes were tedious and costly.
Idaho Robotics was created to facilitate an interactive experience of building robots along with writing the code that supplies commands for these robots to follow. The workshops, some, cleverly themed, like “Robots in Space” or “Out at Sea,” bring to life an affordable option for youth (and parents!) to blaze through specific tasks in about a 60-90-minute window. Now, who doesn’t like that feeling of accomplishment?
Amber expresses with enthusiasm, “They actually get to see their robot doing what they’ve coded.”
“The key is to have about 2 kids per robot ratio to ensure the hands-on experience,” Steve chimes in. “They are going to learn how to code, but they are also learning these soft skills of working with a partner and interacting through trial and error together.” Steve continues, explaining how these programs are “inspiring creativity and the wonder of how things work” and “being able to see the fruits of their labor” within the short period of time.
They have all the supplies required to facilitate a workshop. It’s like a “Taco Truck” concept with all the tablets and equipment to roll right up to the event site, schools, or businesses.
They’ve put in huge efforts to keep it a low-cost endeavor, making it more widely accessible. The early reviews are very positive. Programs are adaptable and accessible to everyone, from an absolute beginner to those who have already had their hands on some form of coding or computer programming.
Steve has a background in economics and financial management. Amber has a background in education and social work, and currently teaches her own children at home through an online public-school system. They’ve lived here in Boise for the past eight years and love calling it home.
As they continue to roll forward, they are going to enhance the programs to include challenge courses, for those who have a bit more of a competitive nature.
Long-term goals include building relationships with schools. They offer programs that could be a “one and done” special event, or ongoing programs to enhance technical skills alongside standard educational curriculums that will give students an edge in this tech-dependent world we live in.
Visit https://idahorobotics.org/ for a full list of classes and camps. While their primary target is young folks, ages eight to teenage, there are also workshops where parents can join in on the fun and learning. Just don’t stop there. Think BIG about where you can plug in a lesson like this. Corporate team building events, birthday parties, private events, family reunions you name it, and they’ll bring what you need to “Think It. Build It. Code It!”
And, staying immersed here in the tech space, let’s shift into the virtual world of the internet. Co-Founder of Stemotion, Hajnalka Madacsi, launched into her motivation to teach kids artistic skills and storytelling through the vessel of building custom websites.
The elements of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are an integral part of everything around us in everyday life. And Madacsi sees this as an opportunity for young people and their families to put practical skills in motion in a literal way.
Stemotion is a functional, satisfying way to take, for example, real goods or services (imagine a local artist, yearning to sell her handcrafted masterpieces) and build a website to put it out there to the world. There are a series of scenarios to outline, step-by-step, how to turn an idea into a functional website. These steps include lessons on how to take quality product photos, build the framework of the business image, and harness these basic technical skills to bring these goods to the virtual marketplace.
Stemotion began about a year and a half ago and provides a launch pad for us to live the “American dream” of entrepreneurship from the comfort of the internet.
Classes are designed for one-on-one, for families, work groups, and school classrooms, where curriculums can be provided on an ongoing basis for students to learn. And, it’s affordable. The need for access to these kinds of resources at an effective cost is paramount.
There is an exciting level of empowerment in this space of creation. And the benefits of learning from these programs go beyond just building a website. Collaboration. Innovation. Exploration. Opening our minds to new perspectives and different ways to approach challenges to accomplish goals.
Madacsi studied philosophy, medical assisting, and journalism. She’s fascinated by the process of human thought processes and finding connections to people through processes of learning and creating. She loves training people to do new things and empower organizations to take the reins themselves to offer this program to their students and staff.
We even discussed how wonderful it could be to take this program into the juvenile prisons to give them something positive to put their energy into. The skills learned through these scenarios can also be a nice little perk to add into a resume upon release. (Fun fact, 95% of Idaho inmates will rejoin our communities, so why not add to the positive tools in their belts?)
Check out https://stemotion.website/ for information on classes and pricing.
Well? What ideas have you had lately? And how often have you looked at the potential of ideas through the wide eyes of a child?
Take time to play, learn something new, and expand the capacity of your own abilities.
This is all so much more than coding, hammering out commands on a keyboard, or playing with toys. The common theme that rang true for both innovative, interactive companies is that we’ve just got to have more fun.