With a $250 robot and simple-to-use software, LocoRobo hopes to launch the next generation of science and technology experts.

The nonprofit is currently based inside a lab at Drexel University, where engineering professor Dr. Pramod Abichandani, along with undergraduates Zachary Haubach, Kyle Levin and William Fligor, spent two years developing the device and its software.

It comes with lesson plans and educational materials that can introduce beginners to robot technology. Movement can be controlled through an app with simple touch-screen direction; more advanced users can write code.

"LocoRobo allows you to create this really hands-on experience ... an experiential hands-on education," he said.

The little gadget looks a bit like the animated character WALL-E, with two wheels, sensors for eyes and antenna that resemble ears.

To increase the chances of success in the fast-growing STEM fields, Abichandani said it's vital that students as early as grade school learn about coding and programming.