PodPi makes STEM education exciting!


When I was a kid, the way science was taught was, on the whole, pretty boring … well, except for chemistry where the class chemistry wiz would “accidentally” blow things up or make horrible smells every now and then. Science was a class to get through with gritted teeth and even today, getting kids interested in STEM education (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics) is still difficult. The problem is how to make topics that appear dry and complicated into something kids can get excited about. 

Five years ago, Stéphane Côme, the founder, chairman, and chief technology officer of LCS Technologies, a consulting firm specializing in Oracle database wrangling, decided that he wanted to give back to the community and that his focus should be on inspiring children to get involved with computers and software. Côme told me he started off by establishing a Meetup group to teach children and their parents through hands-on technology projects:

Our first informal meet saw 45 kids with their parents (over 100 people) … The group grew rapidly to close to 1,000 families and I couldn’t host workshops anymore (I had sometimes 3 x 2 hours back to back on Sat and Sun), but wanted to continue.  My wife and I gathered feedback from everyone and spent 6 months on the drawing board to come up with PodPi.

PodPi, which has been in operation for one year, offers a well-designed and sophisticated set of kits sent monthly that teach technology and problem solving through electronics, coding, and comic books.

PodPi

Côme sent me one of their comics and they’re impressive; printed on high gloss, durable stock they combine a manga-like aesthetic with solid science, terrible jokes, and pizza recipes; in other words, they are the opposite of boring. The comics explain concepts such as how a wing generates lift and what a millisecond is, along with instructions for building electronic circuits and coding in JavaScript. The first kit comes with an Arduino UNO micro-controller and a breadboard and the subsequent kits include devices such as LEDs, moisture sensors, and servo motors for the various projects. 

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