TROBO – storytelling robot sparks interest in STEM fields

Plush robot reads stories out loud to young children, teaches about science and engineering.

Jeremy Scheinberg and Chris Harden noticed their respective young children were naturally curious about the world around them. Toys for young children weren’t good at building on that science or engineering curiosity and the STEM toys were generally for older kids.

Coming from the video game and theme park industries the pair also knew the value of storytelling as a motivator. No toys seemed to be using storytelling or emotion to get young kids interested in STEM fields. Their solution is TROBO, the Storytelling Robot.

TROBO is a plush robot that reads stories out loud from an iPad or iPhone. A chip inside TROBO wirelessly talks to the iPad to get its signal. The project was successfully Kickstarter funded last year and will exhibit at Toy Fair 2015. Jeremy will also participate on the panel  “Blending the Pink and Blue Gender Barriers: Innovative Entrepreneurs Analyze the Development of S.T.E.M. Toys, Apps and Online Games”.

First prototypes of TROBO were developed at 2013’s Orlando Startup Weekend where the idea won second place. The project has also won two “Maker of Merit” awards from Maker Faire. The team has also partnered with several STEM programs to develop their product and share a love of science and math.

Scheinberg and Harden have extensive experience in developing products and that shows in their straightforward approach to manufacturing, safety testing, developing the apps and building the app infrastructure.

This project is a great example of seeing a marketplace need going unmet and then developing a product to meet that need. Unlike many Kickstarter projects, however, this product has a potential audience of every young child. Bringing more STEM education, especially in the form of engaging learning toys, is a very good idea.