Kipi, the robot, is constructed entirely of repurposed components. Her backpack doubles as a solar panel, and she’s been designed to demonstrate how it converts solar energy into electricity while inspiring students to create their own inventions using local materials like sticks and stones.
“Kids’ curiosity in science and technology is piqued in this way,” Velásquez says.
Radio panels, television parts, and small electronic cards were used to build Kipi’s electronic components. Velásquez used an Arduino card — an open-source electronics framework — to program her lights and gestures, and she loaded Kipi with smart apps to enable students to communicate with them.
Students will teach Kipi to read poems, texts in Quechua and Spanish, gymnastics, and dance using a secondhand tablet. If, for example, students do not wash their hands until beginning class, Kipi will laugh or cry.
Since the students don’t have access to printers, Velásquez created “Kipi books” for them to practice reading.