Tech Kitchen is an outgrowth of the Boston Mini Maker Faire, led by Boston Children’s Museum, which brings together dozens of innovators – tech companies, start-ups, engineers, artists, students, tinkerers, craftspeople and more – to share their work with the public. “What we learned from the Faire was how thirsty families are for giving their children hands-on exposure to new technologies, as well as the process of creating and making,” said Carole Charnow, President & CEO. “Our goal is to provide a unique and dynamic low-barrier introduction for our visitors to tools and technologies they may have heard of, but likely have not had a chance to tinker with, and to provide a valuable service to tech innovators and makers.”
Tech Kitchen, which has been in a pilot testing phase for several months, provides a facilitated space for children to experiment with new tools and technology and for innovators to receive direct feedback. Participating tech innovators have included:
- BOSEBuild - Sent its BOSEBuild division to pilot a DIY Bluetooth speaker system that is under development
- iRobot - Brought several robots and robot prototypes
- Me-J - Shared their new digital music application with visitors young and old
- Trivium - Prototyped a fully interactive art history experience in development for an art museum
- Unruly Studios – Showcased prototypes of its Splat! coding game interactive
- Velcro - Displayed their new Velcro building blocks in the Tech Kitchen where visitors built race cars, dinosaurs, and robots
- Woobo - Highlighted their high-tech children’s toy that uses artificial intelligence to promote learning and exploration in young children
In addition to facilitating this dynamic meeting space for children and tech innovators, Tech Kitchen has catalyzed the development of multiple Museum STEAM and maker programs, including workshops using a laser cutter, circuit building workshops, and a popular “scribble-bots” workshop. The Tech Kitchen program is unique in that the visitors, innovators, and Museum all benefit greatly from these programs and materials. Since its pilot inception, the program has offered the following opportunities:
- Try out completely new, not-yet-available technologies
- Engage in conversation with the engineers and inventors behind the products
- Learn about careers in the STEM world
- Have fun learning together as a family!
For Tech Innovators
- Prototype new ideas and products with the Museum’s 580,000+ annual visitors
- Have access to a family audience that would be cost prohibitive to reach via the usual focus group or market testing format
- Test drive new ideas on a small scale, make changes, and come back for more testing
- Receive honest, uncompensated feedback and suggestions on their products from visitors
- Increase their visibility and exposure
- Offer visitors an unparalleled low-barrier introduction to cutting edge technology and STEAM learning opportunities
- Generate interest in STEAM learning, hands-on making and related maker education programs and events, including Maker Faire Boston
- Provide a home base for nascent makerspace program and the materials in it, such as laser cutters and 3-D printers
Some of the Tech Kitchen innovators have returned for multiple visits, allowing them to engage in iterative prototyping with visitors. The overwhelming feedback from visiting innovators was that Tech Kitchen programs provided a wholly unique opportunity to interact with real families in a comfortable environment where they could share their work and their vision. Many innovators expressed delight and surprise that their product design went in a different direction following detailed feedback and suggestions from the Museum’s young visitors.
The Museum will celebrate the official launch of Tech Kitchen, sponsored by National Grid, on January 27. Innovators and inventors from around Boston will share their latest gadgets, gizmos, and games with visiting family.
Innovators are invited, free of charge, to share their prototypes, newest products, or favorite technologies in Tech Kitchen with some of the 580,000 adults and children who visit the Museum each year. The Tech Kitchen Application can be found online at www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/boston-childrens-museum-tech-kitchen-appli...