Would your kids like to make a video game controller? Buffalo company makes STEM lessons fun

Posted at 5:37 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 06:54:25-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — In the past year Thimble, a tech company for kids based in Buffalo, has had to pivot to keep up with the changes brought on by the pandemic.

Thimble makes kits for kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and offers both live and recorded online lessons. Last spring, the company was working primarily with schools. When schools shut their doors to in-person learning, the company pivoted, and began sending kits directly to kids' homes.

"Once every three months you get a delivery," explained Thimble Founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso. "Then you get you get classes every week. Each lesson you're getting online prepares you for the next kit."

Thimble kit

Pedroso says the combination of live and recorded lessons have helped parents as they navigate the learning-from-home schedules many schools are operating under.

The kits are designed to get kids interested in STEM by getting them thinking about what goes into the items they use every day - like their phones, televisions and computers.

"What's underneath that technology - so they can think - this is how the world is made up," said Pedroso.

The kits start with simple tasks, and get more advanced as they go. Pedroso says they designed the initial projects to give kids "quick wins" so they get excited, and not discouraged. As they continue to do the kits, they build upon the things they've learned. Eventually, they'll have the ability to make a controller that will work with a robot, or even a video game system. Pedroso says that project is usually a hit with students.

"Especially down the line when they know they can program it to their Xbox or Sony Playstation!" he explained.

The kit subscription is $60 per month. Included in that price is everything kids need to make the projects, along with eight live classes per month, and access to a video library of lessons. You can also buy a single kit for your kids to try to see if they're interested.

City Honors seventh grader Spencer Lenahan has been doing the Thimble kits for almost two years. His father John says the kits and online classes have helped Spencer grow his STEM skills.

Spencer Lenahan shows off one of his Thimble creations - a mini piano that connects to his computer.

"I don't have any of these skills myself. In terms of tinkering or coding," he explained. "So I think the fact there is the online community and classes is a really big advantage."

If you're interested in learning more about Thimble, or you want to sign your kids up for the kits and classes, you can visit the Thimble website here.

The company has customers in all 50 states as across the world in China, Japan, and Australia. Pedroso says they're also getting a lot of interest now - as parents start thinking about the summer, and what their kids will do if camps are canceled.