Software Development
Robotics / STEM

Our fave youth STEM projects from the After-School All-Stars’ Innovator’s Fair

“It's very funny and sometimes cool,” said 12-year-old Jihad Carter of his rotating robot.

Beep boop swoosh. (GIF via Giphy.com)
Gosh, is there anything more hope-restoring than watching lil kids work on STEM projects?

Fortunately, at After-School All-Stars Philadelphia’s first Innovator’s Fair last Friday, this reporter happily witnessed how 20 kids from William D. Kelley, Vare-Washington and Conwell Middle Magnet schools built and showcased some impressive projects, developed alongside volunteer advisors.

Reynelle Staley, the nonprofit’s executive director, had a beaming smile as she greeted attendees to the fair, which took place at the fancy CIMCity Lounge on the 15th floor of the Comcast Center.

“We try try to have students learn about new technologies and develop a passion but also see that there are real world uses to what they learn,” Staley said. “Connecting to technology means they can do anything.”

But it’s all about the kids, so let’s get straight to the projects, shall we? Here are some of our favorites.

Sphero

12-year-old Jihad Carter from William D. Kelley says his favorite thing about the Sphero robots project is learning to control them through the iPad. He was happy to demo the spinning droid to everyone who asked.

“It’s very funny and sometimes cool,” said Carter.

https://twitter.com/TechnicallyPHL/status/847891826040287235

EdDigger

Justin, also from Vare-Washington in South Philly, shows off the EdDigger robot, built from Edison’s educational robots. It can be programmed to travel, stop and “dig” as needed.

https://twitter.com/TechnicallyPHL/status/847893792141316096

Robot Wars

Two Edison programmable robots try and kick each other off a mat in a death match-style battle. As with any robotics project, the important lesson for the kids happens behind those two laptops, where an easy coding interface tells the robots what to do.

Granted, it’s not always a thrilling face-off, but here are the robots in action:

EdPrinter

Emanuel and Luis were very shy at first, but they can talk all day about the LEGO-made OG printer they built.

As they got to the expo, the duo had to overcome a few technical difficulties and do some fixes on the fly to their project. Mind you, this isn’t so much a printer as a “tracer,” but the key lesson behind this project, as with all of the others, is getting machines to follow instructions through coding.

Racing Game

Using an MIT-built coding education platform called Scratch, students from the Vare-Washington School built a cool racing game, with guidance from After School All-Stars instructors.

Full disclosure: This reporter played a match of Racing Game for educational purposes, of course. He lost spectacularly.

I’ll get you next time, José.

Companies: Comcast

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