To encourage interest in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—the AIM Institute’s Brain Exchange will showcase a kid-friendly, programmable robot as part of a fun, family get-together Friday, July 12, 7pm at the Agnes Robinson Waterloo Library, 23704 Cedar Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

The Dash robot, designed by Wonder Workshop, helps teach kids the basics of programming. Dash runs on the same kind of technology used to control famous droids like R2D2 of the Star Wars movie franchise.

The Dash robot can be programmed to respond to sounds and voices, dance, move around, sing and flash its own lights. Using an easy-to-understand touch-screen app, users add blocks of commands similar to Legos to stack together simple or complex programs.

The AIM Institute Brain Exchange will have over twenty Dash robots on hand for participants to try. Erin Lasiter, director of the AIM Institute Brain Exchange, says such hands-on tech activities are important for sparking early interest in technology.

“Technology touches absolutely everything that young people, especially, are going to face in the future,” Lasiter said.

The earlier a child can start learning about tech, the more likely they are to succeed in a world where technology increasingly mediates daily life, she added.