It’s been over three years since Neven Boyanov launched his first crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to bring programmable Arduino boards to students. His idea was to introduce a new way to develop the skills needed for the future of work – creative thinking, problem-solving, but also combine them with math, chemistry, physics, and coding.
Today his project Tinusaur is a whole platform – kits of programmable boards and sensors are still part of the game, but there’s also a software that helps students learn to code through a logical and very visual interface. In its core, Tinusaur is an educational project and this is the reason we decided to share with you a conversation we had with its founder Neven Boyanov exactly today – on the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavonic Alphabet.
Skills for the Future
Neven Boyanov believes a cross-disciplinary set of skills and way of thinking is what the upcoming wave of Industry 4.0 requires. Tinusaur is his way of contributing to the proper education of future-proof talent. Interestingly enough, the project is not only targeted at kids. According to Boyanov, university students also use the board to learn some basics of programming.
Since 2014 Boyanov has been organizing 1 or 2-day training workshops where people could get a Tinusaur kit, learn how to solder and assemble it, and write their first microcontroller programs. In the past three years the Tinusaur Project is already getting traction in the field of Formal education. In 2016 it was considered and later officially selected as the platform for the “Microcontrollers and embedded devices” class in St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo, in Bulgaria, where Boyanov frequently holds lectures.
Informal education is however what the founder finds most important. He makes sure to keep the kits affordable, so they are easily bought by students, but also teachers who want to start courses in microelectronics and basic programming.
Training the Trainers
In three Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns since 2016, Boyanov has managed to sell boards for around $8.5K (the price per kit varies between $3 and $24). Most of the sales, he says, are in the US, Canada, the UK, partly Germany – but in any case outside, Bulgaria. Boyanov, however, has his mission to bring Tinusaur to students here.
So, he started training teachers who would like to conduct and sell their own courses in robotics and microcontrollers. Boyanov doesn’t want to just sell the physical product but also build a contextual package around it, and this also part of the business model. The courses cost between $200-$300. As of the boards, the founder doesn’t want to sell them separately in the near future and profit from that, he’d rather keep them affordable, so they could be subsidized through different governmental programs and accessible for every kid.