Four young Spaniards have set out to revolutionize early childhood education through programming and are very close to fulfilling their dream. The entrepreneurs Esther Borao, Luis Martín, Borja Latorre, and Fergus Reig have managed to create the Ifs. The product is four small robots that can receive instructions from children to activate their functions and the team have taken their first step to bring them to market.
To make it happen they need $221,000 (€200,000) and to achieve that amount they have launched, on December 16th, a crowdfunding campaign through the Kickstarter platform. The campaign will run for 40 days. “We need absolute support and our lives are in it, or at least that of the Ifs family,” explained Luis Martin.
If they succeed, before the end of 2020 children will be able to get their hands on the equipment, which includes robots called Emma, Liam, Noah and Holly, the programming blocks, a storybook full of adventures and activities, and letters.
The game is aimed at children under 3 years of age who by using the sensors and actuators available to the robots, can program them “without the need for screens and in a very intuitive way”,according to Martin. This is done using two different blocks: if (condition) and then (action). “Each one has a different image and by combining them the children play with loops, statements, and algorithms while creating their own stories,” the young man explained. They can even create a flashlight to read in bed after lights out or set off an alarm to detect people entering their room.
“We believe it is a unique opportunity to test all the effort and work done. We have confidence in the public, who have already shown their support for our project on many occasions,” Martín added. “For us to launch our product to collective financing is necessary, since we did not want to depend directly on companies or investors in the production phase. The reality is that we have several stakeholders in the project and we have relegated them to the second phase of expansion. This is an exciting adventure,” said Latorre.
The Ifs is part of Makeroni, a non-profit organization founded in 2013 to create digital projects with social impact and since 2017 has been working on this game to involve children in programming through fun and entertainment. “The most important day of our life as an association has come,” they said.
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