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Worried Your Kids Aren't Learning Critical Thinking Skills? Tiddlybot Is Here To Help!

If you're a parent, you can't be blamed for being a little worried about the current state of children's education. In many schools, the educational program rather severely lacking. It doesn't do much to teach children critical thinking, nor does it help them to develop higher-order skills necessary to survive out in the real world.

Now, one little robot seeks to fill the gap - and inspire a generation of new young inventors to dive into the worlds of robotics and programming, in the process. It's built out of the low-cost Raspberry Pi mini-computer, making it incredibly affordable. it's available in a range of colors, and can even be built out of sustainable plywood.

It's Tiddlybot, and it's here to make the next generation of teaching - and learning - fun. 

For such a small robot, "Tiddles" (as its creators affectionately call it) has an impressive array of teaching tools. It can draw free-form art or follow a pre-programmed pattern, output live wireless video, and be directly controlled from a smartphone, tablet, or PC; it can also teach its user to code in Blockly, Python, and Java. 

Agilic, the San Francisco-based startup behind Tiddlybot, has been running workshops for young people to teach them about technology for the past two years. To them, the little droid is the next step in their educational program.  The team behind it was made up of students from both the United Kingdom and the United States; they got together to brainstorm a low-cost and effective method of teaching robotics to children. 

"We've been working hard to create something to engage and empower the next generation of engineers, programmers, and scientists and we think Tiddlybot is fantastic at focusing all types of learners," explained Agilic CEO Harry Gee. Children, he continued, find the robot fun to play with; both the hardware and software are designed to be simple and straightforward so that learners can easily build confidence with the basics of robotics and engineering. 

Tiddlybot is still in its pre-production stages right now, but when it hits the market, it'll cost $48 for the full kit. That kit includes an interface board, SD card, illustrated instructions and a learner guide. Those who pledge to the campaign can get the whole package for $37. 

The Kickstarter campaign for the robot - which closes on July 26, 2014 - has already reached its initial $27,000 goal, and currently has its sights set on several stretch goals. $35,000 will allow the team to produce an illustrated beginner's guide to robotics, while $50,000 will allow them to develop several interactive games for Tiddlybot. At the time of writing, they're just $5,000 shy of the first goal. 

Make no mistake - something about our current education system simply isn't working. We're seeing way too many kids exiting it without developing the necessary skills to get ahead in life. There's no easy fix to the problem - and no simple answer as to why it exists. Perhaps in the future, though, robots like Tiddlybot will be there to pick up the slack when human educators fall short of meeting their student's needs.

In so doing, they could inspire a whole new generation of inventor, programmers, and creatives - something a lot of schools simply fail to do.