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Christmas Gift Guide
Gadgets

Turn drinking straws into crazy dancing robots with Quirkbot

A new Kickstarter project aims to let kids of all ages use hobby motors, LEDs and regular ol' drinking straws to make fully functional robots that walk, light up and even play drums.

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Quirkbot can do some pretty awesome things, like letting you control a game of Pac-Man using bananas. Quirkbot

Hey kids, straws aren't just for drinking apple juice anymore. A new Kickstarter campaign for a device called Quirkbot will help you turn those old straws into a fully functional robot.

Launched by Kids Hack Day, Quirkbot itself is a programmable microcontroller that's compatible with Strawbees, a connector that lets kids connect traditional drinking straws and make them into elaborate structures. After attaching things like LED lights and motors to the Quirkbot, these straws can be used to create robots that move around, light up and do all sorts of other things.

Quirkbot's goal is to make it as easy as possible for kids of all ages to learn how to make things, and that goal is evident when it comes time to program the Quirkbot. That's done by connecting the device to your computer via USB, then using a simple drag-and-drop interface on the Quirkbot website to add different functions to the robot.

As you'd expect from a Kickstarter campaign, there are various support levels if you want to back the project, starting at $55 (about £36/AU$69) for a basic Quirkbot without the Strawbees add-on pack. The pack with Strawbees currently goes for $63 (about £42/AU$79) for the next 300 or so backers. All units are projected to arrive in backer's homes in August 2015.

Backers should be able to get pretty creative. The project page shows that users can build things like a robotic Venus fly trap or autonomous robot rock concert, and even use real bananas to control a game of Pac-Man. If that's not enough to encourage kids to become makers, I sure as heck don't know what will.

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Quirkbot