Bring a programmable robot building kit into your household and your child’s creativity will blossom! Programmable robot kits are just a great way to foster a love for science and technology that will grow with your child as they get older. They are definitely an excellent way to introduce basic engineering concepts and computer science to your up-and-coming engineer. Robots are just cool! And popular! There are lots of great deals to be had on Amazon right now too. By designing, building and programming a robot, your children are learning several different skills; electronic and mechanical engineering, computer-aided design, physics, computer science, maths and other practical skills. The finished product will give them a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence. Added to that but they will also have a cool toy to play with!
There is a huge variety of kids robot building kits out there, ranging from programmable, remote control robots to simple, easy to assemble toys. If your child has lots of experience with lego sets for example they may enjoy a more complicated build. A beginner may enjoy something more simple. When you’re choosing a robot kit, consider your child’s interest level but also their age. Make sure the kit you buy doesn’t require any soldering, like the adult versions. Soldering isn’t child’s play! Shop for kits in which the finished robot looks cool and unlikely to break. Also pay heed to how appropriate the construction level is for a younger programmer and engineer.
Makeblock Starter Robot Kit
The Makeblock Starter Robot Kit really is an excellent choice for beginners to learn electronics and graphical programming. There are two build options with this kit: a robot tank or a three wheeled car. No soldering is required and the instructions are quite easy to follow although younger children may need some assistance when wiring up components. The recommended age for this product is 8 and up but I would suggest it may be more suited for a 10 year old or early teenager.
The Makeblock comes with 2 DC Motors, so your robot can move using these and small tank tracks. Everything you need to assemble your robot is included in the kit: screwdrivers, wrench and allen keys. The instructions are indeed clear but it’s worthy to bear in mind that construction can be quite complex.
As the name suggests it is a starter kit, designed for your budding engineer to dip their toes in the engineering and programming world. The programming side of the robot utilises M-Block (a drag and drop block-based programming language which is very similar to Scratch). It may also be programmed with the Arduino language, one which is becoming popular within this niche of product. Arduino is basically an open-source platform, which is intended for anyone to make interactive projects. Open-source means that it was created by a community of programmers who are dedicated to improving and sharing knowledge and coding practices.
Lego Mindstorms EV3
The main player in the DIY Robot space has to be the Lego Mindstorms EV3. While it does come with a heftier price tag, Lego Robotics offers some amazing enhancements to the hugely popular Lego brand. The EV3 makes building, programming and commanding your own Lego robots unbelievably fun and interesting. It is honestly light years ahead of its competitors
The kit itself contains software and hardware that I know will provide hours and hours of entertainment for a child. There are building guides and instruction manuals for 5 unique robots. These must be downloaded from the Lego Mindstorms webpage as no hard copies are included out of the box. Also considering the value of the product, investing in a plastic storage container to hold screws and materials may be a good investment. Minimising the potential for loss is always a good idea!
Kid’s Robot Building Kits & Coding
The visual programming element is relatively easy to get started with. It’s block-like nature is similar to other coding languages on the market these days, although the EV3 Programmer App is more linear in fashion. Robotic creations can be controlled on a variety of devices running iOS/Android or their desktop equivalents. One point to note is that the Kindle Fire uses a cut-down version of Android. Also remember that the first generation Kindle Fire does not include Bluetooth functionality, so that is something to be wary of. And okay, the EV3 can be used primarily as a toy. But if you really want your child to make the most of it get them involved with programming and developing. This will really foster self-belief and confidence; something that can take time but is totally worth it!
I’d recommend buying this product for kids age 12 and up. This robot building kit really is a good investment. It will bring a range of technological knowledge to a child’s understanding of coding and its application in the dynamic world of robotic programming. Unfortunately, the price may put it out of the reach of it’s primary target audience, which is a shame, as their is so much to be gained from the EV3. Lego is notoriously expensive, but for good reason. Design and quality about throughout the entire product range, none more so that Mindstorms.
Kuman Project Super Starter Kit for Arduino
The Kuman Project Super Starter Kit is a perfect launching pad for children to take their robotics and programming up a level! With tons of components, a tutorial CD full of projects and source code, not to mention a wrath of online support this is a really good investment. And it won’t cost you the earth either. This is definitely a kids robot building kit with limitless possibilities.
The Kuman is an excellent starter kit, with varied, high-quality components, and a more than reasonable price. It is probably the best bang for your buck in terms of sheer component quantity and diversity. One point to note is that the box is quite cramped with well packaged components (something that is referenced in the product description, in fairness), so it may be a good idea to purchase a plastic storage case to hold them after the original box is opened for the first time.
From a programming point of view, the Kuman is intended to help kids to learn Arduino, a language which was referenced earlier in this article and one that is very well supported. Really, this kit is a useful starting point for any journey into Arduino. I would recommend pairing this with any decent off-the-shelf “starting Arduino” book. It’s not really a complete kit for total beginners who are looking for an “experiment 1”. You WILL find quite quickly that you need to buy more components. This may soon turned into an addiction!