Sony is getting into the STEM education game with KOOV, a coding kit containing more than enough sensors, actuators, and electronic parts to bring blocky Minecraft-like robots to life.
It’s the first US launch from Sony’s Global Education division, which already found success with KOOV in Japan and China last year. Sony ran an Indiegogo campaign to bring the robotics kit stateside last June, but the campaign just missed its goal of $100,000, ending at 98% fulfilled. That hasn’t stopped Sony though, which is determined to teach kids by focusing on selling an Educator Kit to schools.
Designed for kids ages eight and up, the Educator Kit contains over 300 building blocks and 30 hours of educational STEAM curriculum to teach kids Scratch, an introductory programming language on the KOOV app to control the robots they build. There’s 23 different robots you can make using pre-coded “Robot Recipes”, which are jumping-off points for kids to use those skills to build their own original robots. The KOOV app also includes class management software, and works on Windows, MacOS, and iOS, with Chromebook support to come.
There are seven different types of KOOV blocks in different colors, which are supposed to help kids develop spatial awareness. Two blocks can be connected together in “over 120 possible combinations,” which certainly opens up lots of possibilities for 3D building. At KOOV’s core is a microcontroller that’s based on the open source Arduino platform, which connects all the code to the robots. It appears that there’s only one of these cores in each $519.99 Educator Kit, so KOOV is also great for teaching kids the value of sharing. So educational!
KOOV will be facing a lot of competition, following in the footsteps of other build-your-own robot kits like Lego Mindstorms EV3 which was released in 2013, and the more recent Lego Boost which uses the same model of ‘drag-and-drop’ programming within a companion app. There’s also the Toy-Con Garage coding feature in the Nintendo Labo coming out this April, and based on our experience playing around with it at a preview, is going to be a STEM-educator’s dream.
The KOOV is available for pre-order starting today, and kids can expect to get their hands on the kits by end of March.