Gizmo Cats was founded by Oscar Naval. After speaking with other parents of children who went to school with his son, Oscar discovered that he was not alone in noticing that kids play games with computers but do not understand or appreciate what makes them work. Rather than kids just playing games (e.g. Minecraft), why not teach them to change the game's virtual world with programming and control devices. As a result Oscar created a STEM learning program that teaches physical computing (e.g. using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer and other micro-controllers, and program languages such as Scratch and Python).
In the 21st century, project-based STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education is a requirement, yet the education system model we follow was designed in the 19th century. STEM learning is analogous to the basic reading and writing skills of the past centuries.
PAST: “Why learn to write when all we need to know is how to plant crops or apply our trade?” Really, how many of us have grown up making a career as a writer? So why become fluent in reading and writing? Obviously, we all know you must learn to read and write because it is a basic skill that opens up opportunities even though we may never make a career as a professional writer. PRESENT: Even if you never become a technical professional or even have a technically related career, the process of learning STEM, and specifically in technology and coding, is now a basic skill that opens up new opportunities. Project-based STEM learning helps you learn collaborative thinking, failing and trying again (e.g. program debugging), logical processes thinking, and project planning by breaking down ideas into smaller processes.
These basic skills are transferable to the fast, ever-changing job market, including non-technical careers. And, it is a must for all creative innovators, lean businesses and entrepreneurs of the future.
Oscar started his career in the Silicon Valley in California working in digital electronics, EDA (Electronic Design Automation), and FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). He worked as a Science Interpreter at World of Energy Fremantle, working with school groups demonstrating and facilitating science experiments. His other roles have included TAFE lecturing in IT, and Training Coordinator and Business Analyst for the Department of Training & Workforce Development (formerly known as the Dept of Education & Training) WA Westone Services.