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Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls, Lego, and….The Amazing Annoyatron

Most of the press EduKits gets with The Amazing Annoyatron is the result of its inventor being a 14 year old kid who goes to a public high school in a farming town in regional NSW.

Something a little bit different, and just a little awesome happened in Melbourne this week. In yesterday’s Sun Herald which is one of the most widely read newspapers in Victoria, The Amazing Annoyatron was listed as being one of the Top 10 toys on kids wish lists this year.

In a way what was so awesome about this feature was that there was no mention of the product’s creator, rather like a baby standing up for the first time, there was the Annoyatron standing up surrounded by some of the most respected names in the toy industry.

While the Annoyatron’s back story definitely helps to differentiate the product from the many toy and learning product choices parents have when buying Christmas, Birthday or reward presents for their kids we are proud to have a product that can be presented with what are considered to be the best available in 2018.

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News

Talking at the Shed of the Year

EduKits was pleased to be invited to present a talk to members of the Wagga Rotary Club held at Wagga’s Mens Shed, which was announced Australian Men’s Shed of the Year in 2017. The shed provides a community meeting place and programs for men including woodwork, metalwork, bee-keeping, gardening and lead lighting, to name a few.

The Rotarians were particularly interested in Michael’s story – how he started an international e-commerce business while still attending high school in Wagga Wagga. He also talked about his success in receiving a scholarship to Space Camp USA, and the importance of using every opportunity that’s presented before you.

The Wagga Men’s Shed is hugely supported and valued by the community in regards to its values and the work it does. It would be fantastic to see a similar STEM makerspace become available for the younger members of our community to share knowledge and work with others while developing educational projects.

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News

Pitchfest Judge elected Australian Deputy Prime Minister

It was interesting to read today’s newspaper headlines that Michael McCormack has been elected as the new Deputy Prime Minister for Australia. Those who have been following the EduKits journey will remember that Michael McCormack (as then Australia’s Small Business Minster) was one of the  five person judging panel who awarded The Amazing Annoyatron first place in the national final of the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest competition.

Our new Deputy PM was joined on that judging panel by Jane Kay – founder of Birdsnet, Martin Adams – chairman of the MAP Advisory Board, innovation expert Kerri Lee Sinclair, and Greg Sutherland – CIO of Australia Post.

It’s great to read in the media about the further successes of all who were involved in the competition, right from competitors to the judges and also the events organiser Di Somerville.

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News

EduKits tour of Silicon Valley

In late January, I was given the opportunity to take part in a tour of Silicon Valley in the United States. The area, near San Francisco in California, is home to the headquarters of some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, Twitter and YouTube.

Facebook headquarters

The headquarters of world’s largest social media platform was certainly a sight to behold. Multiple buildings, often four or five storeys in height, were filled with over ten thousand workers. Despite the massive construction efforts, the area was surprisingly green; the company had built gardens on top of their roofs where they would encourage employees to hold meetings during the summer and had planted trees and lush grasses where buildings did not cover the campus.

Inside the buildings, Facebook had tried to make work as fun as it could get for its employees. Walls were covered in bright, colourful decorations and there were large, open areas where workers could relax. Something to excite any foodie would be the ‘free food bars’ the company offers at various locations around their campus. Breakfast, morning tea, snacks, lunch and afternoon tea are all available there at appropriate times during the day. Oh, and did I mention that Facebook has its own chefs?

 

Stanford University

Stanford is one of the most well-known names worldwide when it comes to universities and technology. The university has taught a number of big names, including Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sundar Pichai and even Tiger Woods.

A student from the university delivered a personalised tour of the campus, showing us their computer science and design school faculties. We were also lucky enough to take part in a class at Stanford in their design school.

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3D Printing Coding Education News

School holiday tech workshops a success

Over the summer holidays, EduKits ran a number of school holiday workshops for kids, held at Wagga’s co-working space, Working Spaces HQ.

This was the second time that I’ve run school holiday workshops, with the first being focused on giving kids and teens a first experience with 3D printing technology. These holidays, in addition to the 3D printing lessons, we also provided further workshops with a focus on electronics, coding and virtual reality.

It was exciting to see the outstanding uptake and support from the local community. Attendees ranged from ages 9 to 13, many of whom were completely new to what they were learning. This was, therefore, a great opportunity for me to show that learning about technology doesn’t just have to be for getting a job, but it can also be great fun as well.

Kids had great fun designing and 3D printing their own bag tags, bubble wand designs, and fantasy castles which they could take home with them after the workshops. Others used coding in a race to create the most annoying sounds (using The Amazing Annoyatron, of course), or to create chatbots that spat out random, nonsensical sentences. But overall, participants were given a wide range of technical skills and a basic understanding of how some core technologies function.

The workshops were created as a way to introduce the youth in our local community to the technologies that are going to shape our future, something that was certainly a success.

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News

STEM Academy – Showcase in Wagga Wagga

Today EduKits attended a Sydney University STEM Academy showcase event for primary school teachers, which was held in Wagga Wagga. At the event EduKits founder Michael Nixon presented a short talk on how teachers can engage kids in STEM learning. A version of that talk you can read in our blog here.

Over the course of the day teachers and students from the various partner schools were able to share their about their STEM programs and experiences and generally learn from each other. A key message from Michael was that in teaching STEM be mindful that for most kids the idea of Science Technology, Engineering and Maths it is more intimidating than it is exciting. Giving kids great first experiences with STEM is vitally important to helping them overcome many of the difficulties and frustrations they’ll experience in working through STEM projects which often don’t work first time or as planned.

If you are a teacher and want to find out more about Sydney University’s STEM Academy you can get more information here.

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Education News

EduKits featured in SBS Small Business Secrets

 

It was great this week to refresh some Pitchfest 2017 memories, with the airing of the latest SBS Small Business Secrets episode where they featured the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest 2017 national final.

The episode gave some good coverage for many of the businesses involved in the Pitchfest competition and not to forget the judges, the event organiser (Di Somerville) and Australia Post who made the national competition possible.

EduKits good friend Selena at Edufolio’s got some good airtime in this episode which was great to see. Another highlight for all businesses needing to put together a pitch was some of the tips from the expert judging panel.

SBS Small Business Secrets is a great show which helps shine the spotlight on the small business owners and innovators which are contributing to their communities and Australia’s general economic growth. For the teachers that enjoy reading the EduKits blog, here’s a little known piece of information, SBS Small Business Secrets has resources that map their program to the ACARA business and economics curriculum. Here’s a link to that page.

For those that missed the episode on Pitchfest you can watch it here.