Our 9 Year Old EdTech Correspondent, Tatum F, Talks Robots, and Ozobots At SXSWedu
We first met Evo and Bit, the cute little Ozobot robots at CES 2017 in Las Vegas earlier this year. Now the team is at South By Southwest EDU, fresh off the heels of a $3 million dollar raise. The company was founded by father and serial entrepreneur Nader Hamda after he became frustrated with the pricey programmable robots offered for kids. He wanted to create something fun, easy to program and as expandable as robots that cost 5 to 10x the price of the $60 Ozobot starter kit.
Kids as young as five can learn to easily program the Ozobot robots by drawing lines and shapes on a white piece of paper with special Ozobot markers. Kids a little older can use Ozoblockly the programming language based on Google’s Blockly language to teach the robot to do a variety of tasks and customize programs that it can follow.
Of course there’s also a mobile app where kids can quickly tell the Ozobot to go find a friend or make it do a tornado move, which sends the Ozobot into a dizzying whirlwind like the Tazmanian devil.
Ozobot has already been implemented into 3,000 schools. The possibilities for Ozobots implementation into the classroom are endless. In one use case a biology teacher asked her students to program the Ozobots to circulate through drawings of the digestive system. Ozobot can also teach kids to program the basics, stop, go, turn around, dance and a bunch of other amazing stuff.
At CES 2017 Ozobot showed off their Disney Marvel Avengers toppers that fasten atop the Ozobots golf ball sized frame which give the Ozobot robots new life as characters from the Avengers series. Kids can choose from Black Widow, Ultron and the Hulk.
Last month the company secured a $3 million dollar series A round led by Tribeca Venture Partners. ZICO coconut water founder Mark Rampolla was also part of the round. His fund Power Plant ventures typically focuses on food and agriculture ventures but he was attracted to Ozobot by the tremendous opportunity.
“Nader has gotten the Ozobot built and into more than 3,000 schools with limited resources, some friends and family funding. They’ve had a really amazing response from teachers around the country already. And this funding just helps expand on that early success.” Rampolla told TechCrunch.