FlowPaw, a London based company, is close to reaching its Kickstarter campaign goal of £19,500 having raised £12,912. FlowPaw is a robust learn to code kit following the success of Kano that aims to help children, both young and old, learn to code and build command driven projects like games, robots, music players and even an alarm system. Based on research that shows children learn better by having something tangible in their hands, FlowPaw hopes to follow Kano’s success which raised over $1 million dollars with their Kickstarter campaign.
What is FlowPaw?
FlowPaw looks like an unfinished project, but that is by design. It is a fully accessible circuit board that has plug and play interfaces and all sorts of components that are necessary to build a wide array of fun projects. The core components of the circuit board are listed below.
Circuit Board Components
- USB port – this allows connection to a PC which is required for a visual interface as well as programming the gizmos.
- Digital and Analog inputs
- Servo Motor Connectors
- 4 LEDs
- 4 Push Buttons – with immediate interaction with the device, children won’t get bored while waiting for a finished project
- 4 Swappable Expansion “Claws” – these expansion claws, called Click Boards, provide the functionality of FlowPaw. Examples include a Relay switch, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor and Bluetooth. Currently there are 10 that are supported with 10 more being available at the end of the campaign. The additional boards include GPS, RFID, a Compass and a Joystick
FlowStone is FlowPaw’s award winning graphical programming software. By connecting building blocks together, you can “draw” out a program. One of the coolest features about the software is that it runs in real time! Yes, if you are struggling to get that alarm to fire when someone is getting within 5ft of the proximity sensor, keep testing on the fly with the graphical interface until your code works. With the immediacy of this program, children see results instantly and are constantly engaged.
With the graphical “blocks” interface, users can see how the pieces work together while seeing the code that makes it all happen. Eventually, by editing the code directly, children can “hack” their way to new functionality and create new programs.
One negative with FlowStone is that it is not compatible with a Mac (note: the FlowPaw is compatible). However, there are options. A virtual machine software, like Parallels, can be used to run PC based software on your Mac. In addition, if you have a Raspberry Pi, you can plug it into the board and program using Python. Both of these options may require additional purchases if you don’t have Parallels or a Raspberry Pi laying around. Python defeats the purpose of having a graphical interface to help children learn to code. I hope a Mac version is available in the future.
What Can I Make With FlowPaw?
With the impressive amount of expansion click boards and a graphical programming language, there are many possibilities for building fun widgets and gizmos with the FlowPaw. There is definitely room for creativity to shine with this learning kit. To get your ideas flowing, here are some examples the FlowPaw team has demonstrated.
- Create a “sibling” alarm to see if your brother or sister is sneaking into your bedroom
- A music player that can play your favorite Spotify songs
- Using FlowStone, you can create games while the FlowPaw can be used as a controller
- As shown below, a remote controlled robot (with additional parts and kit)
- Control existing components using bluetooth like cameras, speakers, etc.
Are You Interested In A FlowPaw?
Would you back a FlowPaw? Do you think it will reach its goal? Would your children have the patience? I’m interested in this little kit because of the expansion possibilities and the graphical interface. I’d like to hear your thoughts as these kits are becoming a hot learning tool.
Recommended Training – Treehouse
Although this site recommends various training services, our top recommendation is Treehouse.
Treehouse is an online training service that teaches web design, web development and app development with videos, quizzes and interactive coding exercises.
Treehouse's mission is to bring technology education to those who can't get it, and is committed to helping its students find jobs. If you're looking to turn coding into your career, you should consider Treehouse.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.