blogger counters

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mom, I Built a Robot Dinosaur! Interview with Bin Feng, Microduino STEM Learning Systems

Look, Mom – I’ve built a robot dinosaur that roars! Young learners benefit from hands-on experiences, especially those which encourage experimentation. Bin Feng at Microduino has been at the forefront of a wide array of hands-on robotics, manipulatable, and modifiable, which engage young students and encourage them to study science, technology, engineering, and math. Welcome to an interview with Bin Feng, co-founder and CEO of Microduino.

Q:  What is your name and your background?
A:  My name is Bin Feng, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Microduino, Inc., an award-winning global designer, developer, manufacturer and seller of stackable electronic building blocks, related accessories and peripherals, and in-class science, technology, engineer, and mathematics (STEM) learning systems which encourage and enhance inventors’ creativity, imagination, and ingenuity through project-based learning.

As one of Microduino’s principal product architects, I’ve helped guide Microduino from a fledgling start-up founded in 2012 to a rapidly-growing global brand with an expanding STEM/STEAM education product portfolio and a diverse roster of education market customers and international distributors and value-added resellers (VARs). Since the company’s founding, my partners and I have built Microduino’s following of students, teachers, inventors, and electronics enthusiasts into an engaged community of over 1,000,000 members; and developed a comprehensive STEM/STEAM product line and education platform for use in schools around the world.

As CEO, I oversee the strategic development and implementation of Microduino’s business strategies, plans, and supporting programs, and I ensure their alignment with the company’s mission, values, and short- and long-term objectives. On a day-today basis, I direct the company’s operations, product design, business development, sales, marketing, and financial management activities.

Prior to starting Microduino, I was the general sales manager of Leadgo American, the U.S. subsidiary I established for the highly-regarded manufacturer of advanced composite materials used in the aerospace, marine, and wind-power industries. Previously, I held sales and product management roles at Parker Hannifin, the Fortune 250 developer of motion and control technologies for the industrial and aerospace markets. I began my career as an applications sales engineer at General Photonics, a designer and builder of innovative optical instruments and modules to fuel the growth of optical networks, sensor systems, and biomedical diagnosis systems. While there, I managed a multimillion-dollar book of business which included important business relationships with such well-known government agencies and corporations as NASA, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, NEC, and Kodak.

I have a B.S. degree in materials science from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and applied physics from the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

Q:  What is your company?
A:  Founded in 2012, and based in Westlake Village, Calif., Microduino is an award-winning global designer, developer, manufacturer and seller of stackable, LEGO®-compatible electronic building blocks, related accessories and peripherals, and in-class STEM learning systems.

With tailored offerings for individual consumers and academic institutions, Microduino offers a broad range of modules, sensors, and project kits which improve critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and enable creators to bring their inspirational and pioneering concepts to life. Because of their ease of use, unique patented hardware design, and nearly unlimited applications and configurations, Microduino products have spawned a passionate and highly-innovative worldwide community of students, faculty members, makers, hobbyists, engineers, and electronics enthusiasts of all ages, backgrounds, and skill sets.

Microduino targets, and sells its STEM educational toys and learning systems to, two core markets:
- Consumers:  Individual consumers, including children and their parents, interested in educational toys such as building blocks and interesting do-it-yourself (DIY) kits, projects and applications.
- Education Domain:  Elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges and universities.

Q:  What is your philosophy of learning?
A:  At Microduino, we’re all about fun, enjoyable hands-on STEM learning that encourages children to understand and explore the intersecting worlds of electronics, product design, and hardware coding — and sets the stage for higher education in STEM-focused disciplines and eventual careers in STEM-related fields, such as engineering, software development, and scientific research.

With products that are aligned with the latest Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and Common Core guidelines for STEM instruction, our comprehensive line of products and learning systems act as a STEM/STEAM education continuum in which children can learn basic product design and coding skills right from the very beginning and at an early age, and then progress through the entire platform by learning more advanced skills and techniques along the way.

From our perspective, it’s not enough, particularly in the STEM education realm, to build a robot, car, drone or some other project. While those activities are certainly fun and educational, to a certain extent, we believe the how, why, and control behind the design are even more important, especially in enabling children to understand the logic, sequential nature, and programmable aspects of a product’s design and operation. How and why does this project work the way that it does? Can it be programmed to operate in a different manner? If so, what new code must I write to instruct the vehicle to behave differently? Can I combine these sensors and modules to create something entirely different?

Moreover, we intentionally developed Microduino products to provide children with endless design and configuration possibilities. As a result, they’re able to leverage their newly-acquired knowledge of electronics and coding to create a whole new array of projects and applications. With Microduino, an individual’s creativity is limited only by his imagination!

Simply stated, with Microduino, a child’s creativity is limited only by his or her imagination! Our motto:  If you can think it, you can create it!

Q:  What are your products, and how do they tie to your philosophy of learning?

A:  Microduino has four main product lines:

- mPuzzle:   Designed for children ages 5 and up, mPuzzle is a collection of easy-to-use, snap-together magnetic components that teach basic electronic circuitry concepts.
~ With mPuzzle, children come to understand how things work by seeing cause-and-effect relationships and outcomes.
~ mPuzzle offers everything kids need to construct common objects found in our everyday world, such as a street lamp that illuminates at dusk, or a TV remote control with a red LED light that shines when it’s turned on.
~ mPuzzle’s use of ordinary objects gives children instant familiarity with their forms and functions, while challenging them to learn how they actually work by building them from the ground up.

- mPie:  Designed for children ages 7 and up, mPie builds upon mPuzzle’s foundational circuitry lessons and hardware components to teach kids introductory hardware coding and more advanced electronic and product design concepts.
~ With mPie, kids discover the world of hardware coding, which helps them visualize the logical and sequential order of things in a physical and engaging way.
~ mPie’s intermediate lessons enable children to link concepts between the physical and virtual worlds by constructing everyday items, such as a rocket, ambulance, and fly swatter, with which they are already familiar.
~ mPie projects increase in complexity so children learn the importance of sequential design and fabrication, and how to identify and resolve problems when those sequences are not followed.

- Itty Bitty City (IBC):  Created for hobbyists, makers, inventors, and tinkerers, Itty Bitty City is a fun-filled collection of Microduino mCookie modules, sensors and accessories which creators use to build eight exciting projects, including a windmill, lighthouse, night light, piggy bank, and music box. Because of its fun and unique applications, Itty Bitty City is also widely used by students and teachers within schools’ STEM/STEAM programs.

- Microduino Mix Kits:  Targeted at students ages nine and up, Microduino Mix Kits come in four levels, Mix 1-4, with each kit including 12 projects pre-coded in Scratch 3.0, electronic components, and complementary lesson plans. A cornerstone of the product’s STEM value is its focus on coding, and teaching students how to program various projects and their respective components. A code is the written sequence of commands created in specialized coding editors, such as Scratch, that tell individual electronic components how to behave.

In support of its learning philosophy, these Microduino products are fun, enjoyable, educational and hands-on, and inspire and encourage children to further explore the intersecting worlds of electronics, product design, and hardware coding. More importantly, we’ve intentionally designed these kits in such a way so that children can master all the concepts taught by one product; move on to the next series, which teaches more advanced coding and electronics principles; and so forth until they develop a comprehensive understanding which they can use to design more imaginative creations. In other words, these are progressive learning products, and as such, they serve as the perfect STEM/STEAM learning tools for all classrooms, and fit seamlessly into today’s cutting-edge, industry-standardized STEM/STEAM curricula and lesson plans.

Q:  Please provide 3 or 4 examples of successful implementation.
A:  As we’ve said before, a child’s creativity is limited only by his or her imagination! Microduino fans can find all kinds of cool projects to pursue in the company’s IdeaLab at Here are several examples of successful Microduino implementations:

- Smithsonian Magazine:  Scientists Are Using Electronic Eggs to Study Vultures | |

IEEE Spectrum: |

- Nescafe Alarm Cap Using Microduino:
- Microduino Music Box:
- Micrduino Hexapod Robot | mPie:

#   #   #

Blog Archive