Aaron Maurer is the author of Smart Robotics with LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor, we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?
Aaron: Education, STEM, Computer Science, LEGO, makerspace
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Aaron: I was contacted by Packt to see if I was interested in writing a book on the new LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor kit. I was so excited as I have on my bucket list to write a book that is officially published and I was able to achieve this with a topic that is a passion of mine, LEGO! My motivation was to challenge myself in learning the new kit, learning how to write a book, and learning how to make my ideas clear for others to be able to use. More importantly, I want to share ideas with the world to inspire and have the readers inspire me with their creations.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Aaron: I did quite a bit of research. For each build I had to be sure that what I was creating was something new for the kit. Additionally, I went back to some of my builds and projects I have created for summer camps, classrooms, and classes using older LEGO MINDSTORMS kit to see what could possibly be upgraded to this kit.
I also had to do research on the robot kit itself. I had to learn what parts and elements came with the kit to see how I might need to change build ideas and constructions based on the items available.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Aaron: The challenges came with building the robots so quickly and then writing it in a way that made sense for the reader. I also had no idea have many edits and revisions go with writing a book so trying to stay on top of everything on top of a full time job and being a husband and dad was tough at times. I loved all of it, but it was a challenge to stay organized while pushing my writing skills along the way.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Aaron: As technology continues to improve we are able to get our hands on more powerful learning kits like the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor kit. With better parts, programming, and options kids and adults can learn so many critical skills. As tech kits continue to improve we see more and more people bringing incredible ideas to life. All of this helps inspire the next generation to explore these fields as careers.
Q. Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Aaron: I don’t think there are many books on this kit on the market currently. The book has a wide range of robot builds to think about robotics and coding in new ways. Each build has the foundation for the builder to expand and make the build their own based on their interests and individual ideas.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
Aaron: I have one major goal with this book. I want this book to be a permission slip for you to build and make. Sometimes when we read books such as these we build as suggested in the book and that is the extent of the creative process. Being an educator spending time in elementary and middle school I have learned that not providing the answer key is the true aim of creativity. What I have created for you is a series of builds for you to explore not only the new LEGO Robot Inventor Kit, but also combining the world of smart robots that impact our daily lives.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Aaron: Give yourself space to learn. Learn to walk away, take a break, and do something else when stuck. Also, keep a notebook and pencil handy to sketch ideas, jot down thoughts, and work in analog mode from time to time.
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
Aaron: The book is focused on the new LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor Kit. I write quite a bit on my blog – https://coffeeforthebrain.com/ and here is the LEGO website link – https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/robot-inventor-51515
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Aaron: Yes, the support has been great. This was my first time actually writing a book and going through the process. They were very supportive and helped me along the way with each step. I had no idea what all goes into writing a book and I felt so fortunate to work with so many incredible people at Packt
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Lego Education Ambassador and Master Educator
PBS Digital Innovator and All-Star
PITSCO Tag Committee
Microsoft Innovator Educator Expert
Microsft Innovative Educator Fellow
Global Learning Mentor(formerly Skype Master Teacher)
Minecraft Global Mentor
Makey Makey Ambassador
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Aaron: In the world of education I try to get involved in as many professional communities as I can. I find that the more I share the more I learn so I am constantly being active in many communities to keep my learning at high levels and pushing my learning to be able to help support educators and students.
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Aaron: I basically had a timeline of two weeks to design a robot, document the build, and write a rough draft. I knew that if I could get a day or two ahead in the early chapters it would help me with the later chapters when the builds were more complex. I tried to get the build and documentation done the first week and the writing the second week.
It was tough because the robot kit I used for the book was not even available at first. When I received in the kit I had to dive right into the action. Thankfully my experience with previous robot kits helped the learning process.
Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Aaron: Be patient with yourself. The amount of revisions and editing can be overwhelming, but in the end it makes you a better writer.
You can find Aaron’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here