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HFC Robotics Training: Meet Edison

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Published on Jan 30, 2015

I've wanted to do robotics training in Uganda for a long time. I realized it was a great way to teach some pretty cool concepts (programming, hardware, engineering, problem solving) in a fun, unique and approachable way.

The problem was, I didn't have any background in robotics. But my youngest son Declan was really into Legos (as I was as a kid) and I rediscovered my box of old Lego Technics and RCX 2.0 Mindstorms. That's when it occurred to me: robotics didn't have to be hard. So I started a journey to learn robotics with the hope of eventually teaching it to kids here in Uganda.

This is the first step in that journey. I begin with the successful Kickstarter Meet Edison (http://meetedison.com). Declan and I experiment with it, and figure out how things work. We found that Edison was fun, inexpensive and the perfect introduction to robotics.

I’ve developed the first Edison training course, which I’ll post soon on hackersforcharity.org, and I plan on doing two more basic courses using only the barcode system (no computers needed to program the Edison!) and then we’ll move on to more advanced programming with the Edware programming software. After that, we’ll test the students and those that pass will move on to Mindstorms training (we got an Ev3 set, but I’m afraid it won’t last too long), then after that, Arduino.

I have a lot of learning to do. We still need a lot of equipment. It’s going to take time to create curriculum and tests (we’re borrowing, begging and stealing wherever we can to avoid reinventing the wheel). But I think all the effort will be worth it. We’re doing a pilot training course with Henry, who runs our hackerspace, then as an after-school club at Declan’s school and then we’ll start teaching Ugandans I told one of our leather guys about that, and he just shook his head and said, “Seriously? In Uganda?”

We are not the first to play with robotics in Uganda, by any means. The folks at http://fundibots.org are doing a great work over in Kampala, along with our friend Linz Craig. This is a great effort, and sprung out of Uganda. Our robotics program is based in Jinja, and is a very small piece of a much larger initiative through our Hacker Space which will teach all sorts of advanced training as an extension of the free technical training we offer at our Computer Training Center.

Fun and Super-cool stuff ahead!

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