Calliope Mini with Stephan Noller

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We’re talking to Stephan Noller, a German internet-entrepreneur part of the Calliope mini founding team. The Calliope mini is an educational microcontroller board that can easily be programmed by kids via the web-based editors. 

I know Stephan from a few conferences in Germany and because we’ve been connected on Social Media I probably heard about this project called Calliope mini quite early. At that time I was also researching educational projects a lot and I was super happy that finally such an initiative came to Germany, too!

Stephan Noller studied psychology at the University of Cologne and later became very known for his knowledge in Predictive Behavioral Targeting – which in short is about  what conclusions can be drawn from users’ online behavior.  He has also been founding and managing several IT companies and over time also got more interested in politics and education. One of his political topics he drove forward is in the field of algorithms and how they affect our society.

Photos of the Calliope mini and contents it ships with
Photos by Joern Alraun, CC-BY-SA 3.0

So let’s look at the Calliope Mini: The Calliope mini is a single board computer that plugs into a computer via USB and can then be programmed via some web-based and mostly block-based editors. It is originally based on the BBC micro:bit that you might have heard of but augments the micro:bit in several ways:

  • It has a star-shaped form factor which prevents younger children from short-circuiting the board
  • It has extra features such an RGB LED, a microphone and a buzzer, plus it can drive motors which results in a lot of opportunities when it comes to creating workshops.

Workshop photos of the Calliope mini – showing the motor capabilities, grove connectors (here: heart rate sensor), etc.
Photos by Sven Haiges, CC-BY-SA 3.0

For programming the Calliope mini, there are several editors available, most of them have a block-based programming style:

  • Calliope Mini Editor, the most basic one
  • Makecode – I mostly use this editor, classic example of block-based programming,
  • there’s also Open Roberta Lab and
  • the Swift Playground for Calliope Mini to be used with Apple devices

Calliope Mini was introduced 3 yrs ago around xmas time – what a great time to catch up on it.



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