XOrduino & XO Stick designs

via the ananialog

I banged out two open hardware designs this week, designed for use with the OLPC XO laptops.

The XOrduino is a stripped down low-cost Arduino-compatible board that plugs right into the XO’s USB ports. But wait, there’s more: it’s also compatible with the Scratch Sensor Board, so you can use this device to control Scratch (and Turtle Art?). It should be compatible with the Arduino IDE and all Arduino Leonardo-compatible shields.

There are only 20 components needed for basic Arduino functionality, costing $5 from digikey (in quantities of 100 or more). Local labor or even older kids could assemble this by hand.

The XO Stick is for when $5 per student is too much money.  Based on the AVR Stick and the ATtiny85 processor, it costs only $1/student. It’s not as user-friendly as the Arduino-compatible board, but can be used to teach simple lessons in embedded electronics.

Eagle design files on github:

I expect to have a small number of each board in a few weeks; let me know if you’d like one in exchange for help with hardware and software bring-up. Schematic and layout review would also be appreciated (I did the PCB routing late at night under time pressure leaning heavily on autoroute, it’s certainly not the prettiest). And feedback from Arduino and Arduino shield hackers would also be welcome.

For more details or to request boards, please see the original blog post, and Alessandro Paganelli’s review in Linux Support magazine.

Turtle Art and Scratch at Vacation Camp (in Miami)

Walter and Melissa Henriquez  ran Turtle Art and Scratch workshops las tweek, during a “vacation camp” for 3rd and 4th graders from Holmes Elementary School.  It sounds like a it was a great success, with the children using Portfolio to make presentations of their work at the end of the week.   Read more about it in the weekly Sugar Digest.


1 in 20 Latin American children use an OLPC laptop

There are roughly 58 million primary school students in Latin America, according to UNESCO’s latest data from their Education For All initiative.   5% of children in that age range are not in school.  And 5% of them use XOs: 1.5 million children have their own, and Peru’s urban initiative is giving another 1.5 million students in urban schools access to XOs through a program where groups of 3-5 students share a laptop.


Today 4/5 of these students are in Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico.   But new programs are growing rapidly, in NicaraguaCosta RicaColombia, and elsewhere.

That’s a lot of budding Pythonistas, Scratcheros, and Linux users!
Now if only my own home country would start providing computers and connectivity to its students as a matter of course…

Rwandan OLPC mentors: students with business cards

Back in May, we held an international Scratch Day event in our office called “Rwandese Kids Scratching their Communities.” This event had local students familiar with Scratch, an interactive programming activity on the XO laptop, planning and holding their own workshop. They taught teachers, family members and anyone else who came how to create Scratch projects.

This day was open to all and many new children found their way into our offices to learn more about Scratch and the XO laptop. Two such boys were Joseph (grade 3, 10 yrs old) and Erize (grade 2, 11 yrs old).

In the months that followed, Joseph and Erize kept coming to our offices (near
their houses) to use the laptops. During this time, they not only mastered use of the laptop, they spread word to their friends, and now help and guide other children who have begun coming to the office. Their homes have become popular places with family and friends coming each night to learn more and use the laptops.

The boys had been reserved and quiet, but are now outgoing and confident. Their English has expanded from a few sentences to conversational in just a few weeks. It is clear their work with the laptop has empowered them. They are so happy to be involved with OLPC, that they have each created their own business card and tell everyone in the neighborhood that they work for OLPC!

Joseph and Erize, on their own, chronicled through pictures an afternoon of themselves and their families at home with their laptops:

Updates from OLPC Greece: multimedia, programming, and plans

Since 2009, OLPC Greece has provided one laptop per child in 35 classes and groups around the country.  580 XOs in all, with the inolvement of many teachers.  They have kept us updated via our wiki and regular emails, and shared some interesting work from their students.

My favorite post is from the 3rd graders at the Sminthi School —  they made large tiles of stencil art, rearranged it on a school wall, and turned it into stop-motion animations with Scratch (video).   Their professors Psychogios, Rigas, and Aspioti, brought this work into with their math, informatics, and art classes.

Recently the OLPC Greece team published a short summary of their work from the first two years, and their goals for the coming year.  They note the need for local hardware labs, software updates, and technical support.  You can follow their work, in Greek, on the public mailing list for the pilot.  (An excellent practice!)

Students and teachers work on a stencil in Sminthi

Students and teachers work on a stencil in Sminthi



Nickelodeon contest update: Voting open for the best art projects by XO students

Mundonick is hosting a public vote for the best projects submitted in the OLPC – Nickelodeon contest across Latin America. Check out the finalists in the contest and vote for your favorite; the winners will be flown in to attend the HALO Awards ceremony this season.

Unfortunately, at the moment these videos can only be viewed from certain IP ranges – including most of Latin America.