We had an amazing time at the 2019 Chesapeake Family Magazine STEAM Fair. Thank you so much to Donna Jefferson for inviting us to participate, and to all of the magazine staff for making it such a wonderful event.
For those of you who attended and visited our interactive exhibit, we promised to share the hardware and software, so here it is. Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links, so we might earn a few dollars if you purchase after you follow them.
We use a variety of robots in our programs, but for this particular event, we brought Wonder Workshop Dash and used the Controller in the Wonder App. That particular app also has some tutorials that can help your kids learn to code. They also make another app, Blockly, which kids can use to program with a block-based system similar to Scratch. Most of the apps can be installed on a Kindle Fire, iPad, or Android device.
Dash is great for kids who are 6 and older; the apps are difficult for younger kids. If you have a younger child who would like to play with them, the controller might be a little too much, so we recommend using something like Coding Critters (4+) or Cubetto (3+).
For the stop-motion animation activity we took to the event, we used the Minecraft Stop Motion Movie Creator studio kit for the stage, background, and mini-figures. We supplemented it with the Minecraft Periodic Table of Elements (blocks) and several mini-figure multi-packs from Five Below. You don’t need this kit to do stop-motion animation, because you can animate literally any mini-figure, toy, or really object, but the kit is nice because it comes with the stage and backgrounds. As an alternative for the backgrounds, you can get the trifold boards (science fair boards) from the dollar store.
The software we used for stop-motion animation is Stop Motion Studio, which is also available on on the Kindle Fire, iPad, and Android devices. There are other apps out there, but this one is super easy for kids to use, and there’s a free version of this one. The paid version does have some more features, so if your child really enjoys creating animations, we recommend upgrading.