On the 12th to the 14th of October 2018, I was in Rome to visit Maker Faire Rome for its 6th edition.  With many countries represented, as well as many ages, there was a huge amount to walk through and view.

I did spend quite some time in the Kids Area however.  As a parent myself I wanted to see what they offered to inspire and drive the youngest of attendees to enter themselves into this prestigious and global event.

Voice O’ tronik Bot – By Ayve, UK

I first spotted Ayve as she was tinkering with her robot and waited patiently for her to deal with the rather large crowds in front of her and waited for my turn. This impressive young lady is only 11 years old but has been attending coding classes since she was 7.  Last November, she won the ‘best working device’ for the Micro: bit 1st Birthday Challenge.

Ayve

So tell me about this exhibit Ayve?

This is my voice command robot, which reacts to voice commands.  So when you press the green button, you can choose from 4 commands: move arms, wave arms, roll eyes and open mouth. You say one of the commands into the microphone and then it will do as you command.

How did it take you to make?

For everything to come together it took 2 months.

What is it made of?

It is made out of upcycled materials.  All stuff that I have managed to find myself.

Did you do all of the electronics yourself?

Yes I did do most of it but I get a little of help from a friend called Llewelyn who is a specialist in Python.

I notice there is a CoderDojo sticker on the side of your robot, which one to do you attend?

I have been a member of the Kingston CoderDojo in the UK for about 2 years

Have you made other projects like this?

Yes, I have made a robot that used a Microbit and it sang a Happy Birthday tune.

So what are you hoping to do out of today Ayve?

I have got business cards with details of my website to keep people updated with the things that I am getting up to and also what I am working on.

So visit her website to keep up to speed with this young innovator!

Sphere-alator – Istituto Tecnico Technologico Statale “Alessandro Volta”, Perugia

I met these three young ladies showing their innovation that sphere-alises food materials to make it easier to package and freeze.  It would probably impress people like Heston Blumenthal for it’s creativity as well (my opinion).  They designed and tested this in their lab and were bringing it to Maker Faire Rome to see what the uptake would be.

It passes through holes at the bottom of this white plastic “spherealator” and drops balls of material into the water below.  They are pressured into shape.  Presentation wise they looked brilliant:

Noodles with Spherealised Tomato Sauce and Basil

L-R Sara Arcangeli, Giorgia Scapicchi, Erica Cerquiglini

CodeMotion Kids

A very large part of the Kids Area is dedicated to CodeMotion Kids.  They have been sponsoring this pavilion since the event began 6 years ago and they host other like minded business within its confines.

As I wandered around their section gazing into each separate area, I found myself marvelling at the amount of different things they offered for different ages and levels of ability.  There was Virtual Reality, drawing, music and so much more.

I found myself drawn to one particular area however, an interactive game for all ages with very minimal coding experience.

I spoke with Massimo the creator of “Mission to Mars” at Code Motion who said this area was to help teach coding to kids.  It would be suitable for kids from 6 years old up to 16 and worked like a role play game.  The kids would have to complete missions in order to play the game and on the way pick up the orange stars.

The children would use iPads with software written by CodeMotion Kids which is a a Scratch Junior Simulator and they would programme the robot to move around the space in front of them.

The robot is called MBot and it is fully Open Source (the whole game is actually Open Source).  They developed their own software using a tablet interface, which is a special version of Scratch which has been adapted to the drivers of the robots.  It can be programmed even by very young children.  They have an ethos of “Creative Learning” at CodeMotion and they feel that this software and game fulfills that line of thought and makes it fun for them to play too.  This particular game encourages the kids to work in teams as well.

This game has made its second appearance at Maker Faire Rome and this year is even bigger after the large interest in it last year.

Keep an eye out for further posts about Maker Faire Rome 2018 coming up!

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