Teach a Kid to Tinker and they'll be a Better Thinker!

Lory Livezey, Co-Founder, techARTeum and the Tinker Pi Factory

I have been a Microsoft C# Developer for 20+ years, and a Systems Engineer prior to that. I have worked in both hardware and software, from Help Desk Operator to Senior Programmer. I discovered the "Internet of Things" while working for the original distributor of the Raspberry Pi, Element 14. It took many years to see it's power and potential-- not through what I read, but by how much I learned while having fun building projects. Such a tiny computer with a world of possibilities, then combined with other microcontroller boards, open source libraries, instructions all over the web -- what a powerful learning tool!


techARTeum, Ltd. was started in January 2018, as a company dedicated to helping teachers to come up with ideas for learning projects that combine art with technology. I felt this was much needed in our world today. As technology becomes more and more complex, kids will need to grasp complex concepts much more quickly than generations of the past. They will need to utilize their creativity to find places for themselves in jobs that robots can't do. I am a life-long student, and have had to keep up with technologies as they come and go -- in order to stay relevant in the workplace, for sure. But also because I love it, and I am a firm believer that if you love what you're learning, and you learn by doing, you'll learn much more! I was writing an article and referenced that age-old saying, "If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime". That made me think of what became our "motto", which essentially follows the same meaning -- Teach a kid to tinker and they'll be a better thinker! I believe that making your ideas come into reality and effective problem-solving are the most important skills anyone can have!

We began developing our ideas into designs, then 3D models, then prints that were tweaked and refined. I realized what a wonderful process it was to be able to have 3D printers at our disposal to create in ways that have never before been so accessible without a ton of money. This is where the idea of The Tinker Pi Factory came in.

The Tinker Pi Factory

I'm sure you've heard of (and seen on TV) teaching hospitals, such as The Cleveland Clinic. This is necessary for obvious reasons. There has to be something in between working on a cadaver and a real live person in the learning process. The Tinker Pi Factory would be an "in between" factory. A place where students could learn about all aspects of a business right in the classroom, while connecting to other classrooms through our web portal. They would learn to write a resume, interview for a job, then train for, and do that job.

For example, if a student has a propensity toward being a "Network Administrator", they would write a resume saying they helped their parents set up their home network. They would interview with the teacher, and once they landed the job, they would begin "on-the-job training". Tutorials and Videos would teach them about TCP/IP, how to get the Raspberry Pi network to communicate, how to remote into them. He/she along with the "Server Administrator" would be responsible for setting up the environment, so the teacher doesn't have to! They would learn to troubleshoot problems, and because they each have their own "specialty", they could then teach each other.

Some students may be more interested in art. They may decide they'd like to apply for a Graphics Designer or Videographer position. Each student would first learn their part of the project -- by reading and watching videos -- then they would do their part by performing a task that would then fit into the larger class project.

The Position Line-Up

  • Plant Manager (Teacher) - Encourages "workers" to stay on track and find solutions using documentation and the internet
  • Server Administrator - Ensures all Raspberry Pis are loaded with the appropriate software
  • Network Administrator - Ensures all Raspberry Pis are connected to each other and (when applicable) to the internet
  • Videographer - Takes video of the class project using a phone or IPad. Helps with Video Editing and Production
  • Graphics Designer - Takes pictures and enhances in free programs like Gimp and Inkscape. Helps with Video Editing and Production.
  • Marketing Director - Develops ad campaigns for social media, showcasing the new product
  • CAD Designer - Designs 3D models using Fusion 360, and provides files to the 3D Printing Tech for printing
  • 3D Printing Technician - Ensures 3D Printers are running properly, cleaned and used safely
  • Blogger - Writes content for Blog, explaining the class project

This program is in the idea stages, though we have been developing our curriculum of Microcontroller videos and tutorials for over a year. If you would like to participate, either as a business professional who has input, or a teacher who would like to be part of a pilot program, please don't hesistate to reach out!'

The current version of Nocci with Microbit (the blue robot)

Tinker Pi Hanging Display

The current version of Nocci with Arduino (the blue robot)

Mrs. Greathouse's STEM class in Youngstown assembled 4 robots in an hour