We chatted with Meir Sela after successfully funding their ActivePuzzle with Kickstarter.
Can you tell us about ActivePuzzle?
ActivePuzzle is a game for building robots out of puzzles. No coding. No screens. Simply snap puzzle blocks together to form robots. With this simple and intuitive puzzle, anyone can build robots!
What’s so unique about your idea?
It is the simplicity in being able to build robots. And the amazing simplicity of ActivePuzzle stems from the fact that puzzles are universal. ActivePuzzle is multiple robot models in one, including a maze runner, a street light, a wake-up alarm, and a smart fan.
What motivated you to start this business project?
It’s true that there are many robot building block games out there, but I was looking for something else. As an educator, I’ve been searching for a language for teaching young kids science and technology principles, but there were always language barriers – electronics, mechanics and computer languages.
It took me 8 years to understand my mistake: we were trying to teach kids the robotics language, instead of letting them learn robotics in their own language. And the very first language they learn even before they start talking is… Puzzles!
How did the idea for ActivePuzzle come about?
I was trying to find the simplest way for children to interconnect and build things. The first thing that came to my mind was Lego, but then I wondered if there was something better, something that children would know how to work with, without any previous knowledge. And then it came – puzzles were the only answer. The puzzle shapes tell you to interconnect them, and they invite you to do so!
Who do you think will use ActivePuzzle?
ActivePuzzle is for those who want to build robots and learn how they work – children and adults. Additionally, educators can use ActivePuzzle to teach STEM: the game is very intuitive and simple to learn, and there is a large number of scientific and technological concepts that can be taught using ActivePuzzle.
How does playing with ActivePuzzle facilitate children’s learning?
According to Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory, children are the architects of their own insights and perceptions. Piaget’s constructivism philosophy of education claims that children learn by constructing knowledge out of their experiences. The ActivePuzzle game implements this principle.
Using ActivePuzzle children build robot models from modular puzzle blocks, each serving a different function. One block stores the battery and supplies the robot with power; another holds a proximity sensor that allows it to “see” objects in front of it, and so on. Understanding the unique function of each block, and precepting a robot as a combination of those functions lies at the heart of the learning process.
Playing with the puzzles and building robots have several advantages with regards to learning:
• Improves STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math) while playing – children building ActivePuzzle robots gain insights on how they work.
• Develops computational thinking, along with logic and problem-solving skills.
• Develops spatial cognition capabilities – by building 3D puzzle models.
• Encourages creativity and innovation.
What is the favourite part of your job?
The best part of my job is inventing things, solving a challenging problem, creating something new.
What’s the most challenging?
The most challenging part is to verify all the product blocks interact correctly with each other, as the number of combinations is huge.
Best career advice anyone ever gave you?
Whenever you get an offer from someone – give it few days before you decide.
Do you have any plans for the future?
We plan to expand the ActivePuzzle game and add many more blocks, to let children experience more technology and science phenomena.
Where can people reach you?
On our website: https://www.activepuzzle.com/support
Here, in ActivePuzzle, we love to learn by playing (honestly, who isn’t?), and this is why we built the ActivePuzzle game kit, active puzzle pieces which form robots. We are scientists and engineers who happened to be educators, which is why we’ve been searching for a language to express exciting robotics ideas. We believe we found it.