One year ago, a simple and very cool construction kit for children came out; called Strawbees, it lets kids develop their inner engineer by making all kinds of structures out of ordinary drinking straws and cardboard. Now, a spinoff project has emerged: a “toy to make toys” called Quirkbot.
Quirkbot is a small 8MHz microcontroller with an Arduino-compatible bootloader that can be made part of a Strawbees creation without any need for soldering or breadboarding. It has light, distance and sound sensors and can basically be used to create moving, drinking-straw-based robots called “Qreatures.” Squeeze-on electronics can add sounds and lights to the mix.
It’s even possible to make a game controller using the thing. Quirkbot has a microUSB port for charging and for loading programs, which kids can create through a browser-based visual programming interface that allows for the sharing of projects.
This is a really nice educational idea – the Strawbees-compatible system makes it easy to quickly try out new ideas. The Swedish Quirkbot team’s Kickstarter campaign launched on Tuesday with the package of Quirkbot microcontroller, Strawbees Maker Kit, light sensors and motor costing $69 or $59 for the first 99 early birds.
Pricier kits come with features such as Midi out, speakers and LED lights, and with distance and sound sensors. The estimated ship date is August this year.