Mimetics was created with the goal of bringing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to all students through the use of robotics as a part of the typical classroom not just as an enrichment or club activity. It's important to emphasize the last point as most robots used in schools become the domain of one "technical" teacher who only works with the "brightest" students in enrichment classes or robot clubs. The Jade Robot and classroom materials were created and designed to be used by all students, including special needs, and all teachers, regardless of their specialty.
Mimetics was started twenty years ago as a volunteer activity at the Ontario Science Centre, one of the largest science museums in the world, where the founders had the opportunity to work with different students and robot products. Over the next twelve years, the Mimetics team were able to work with a variety of different robots with typical students and discovered that they had an approach that was very successful, popular with students and helped illustrate concepts taught in classrooms in a unique way. The programs were effective for all students with girls getting as much out of the program as the boys.
In 2015, Mimetics took what had been learned and designed their own robot which is called the Jade Robot. This is a tracked, differentially driven mobile robot with features not found on any competing systems:
- Built in user interface allowing users to work, program and configure the robot without a PC
- No covers, so students can become more comfortable and familiar with the technology they are working with
- Bluetooth programming interface which means no wires and easy operation
- MIT's Scratch programming of the Jade Robot from the "Jade Support" development tool in which users programs are stored either in Google's GDrive or Microsoft's OneDrive allowing for fast and easy implementation in modern classrooms
- Arabic as well as English and French can be selected in Jade Support and classroom materials are available in these languages as well
- Expandable with servos, camera and custom peripheral devices
Along with the Jade Robot, Mimetics provides classroom materials that allow the robot to be used routinely in the classroom by regular teachers and all students. An example unit plan has been attached to this solution explanation. While the focus might be expected to be only on math, science and programming, the Mimetics classroom materials provide the student with a multi-curricular learning experience with language, social studies and even art being a big part of working with the Jade Robot in the classroom.
Mimetics is B-Corp Certified which means that it has passed a rigorous audit verifying that we are doing what we say we are doing in terms of treating our customers, employees and suppliers ethically and that we are working to make the world a better place.
The Jade Robot has been used with over 35,000 students with some amazing results. Mimetics receives 4.9+ out of 5 on customer surveys and has a 100% customer retention rate. Included in this solution explanation are a couple of recommendation letters we have received from schools that we work with.
Our true measurement of success is how we're changing student's attitudes about STEM as well as their career aspirations. In Ontario, Canada, we can see grade 8 student enrollment rates in academic math and science for grade 9 entry and we track these rates before and after grade 8 students work with our product and programs.
Boys: Before working with the Jade Robot, enroll at a rate of 26% and after working with the Jade Robot this jumps to 86%
Girls: We are very proud to say that the enrollment rate for Grade 9 academic math and science goes from 6% to 92%!
We attribute girls' success with the Jade Robot's no-nonsense approach to technology. The feedback we receive from girls is that they appreciate that the Jade Robot is gender neutral, there has been no attempt to make it more attractive for boys or girls. They find the programming approach to be logical, intuitive and well suited for the classroom materials where they are able to work through the challenges and discover that math and science isn't something that only "boys" are good at; they can succeed at STEM as well.
The emphasis of creating an educational tool that can be used by all students in all classroom environments has resulted in a product that engages and excites students about a future in STEM.