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Best Robotics for Kids 2017 - LEGO's worst Nightmare
Best Robotics for Kids 2016 – The Real Deal

Best Robotics for Kids 2017 – LEGO’s worst Nightmare

Robotics for kids are nothing like the toy cars and dolls or even LEGO of the nineties. You know, the kind mom and dad played with a decade or two ago. Today’s children can learn to learn from making mistakes, enjoy the process and experience of it simply by playing with their favorite toy.

Robots for kids not only help to keep young engineers entertained, but it also helps peak their imagination and creative curiosity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—the now and future of the world.

Smart parents will also agree that selecting the right kids robots kit can help to grow a set of both interpersonal and technical skills that, hopefully, also develop as they get older. It is not just about fun and games, no.

Take the process involved in building up pieces to create a walking, talking or wobbling robot, for example. It can help inspire patience, creative problem-solving skills, reflection, and instill that extra discipline in your child for aspiring to work intently towards achieving personal goals and desires.

Concurrently, the process involved in creating the desired end-product can help young builders learn basic programming, construction plans and how to follow instructions and strategizing to bring to life whatever they desire.

1. Ziro

robotics for kids ziroAge: All ages
Price: Varies with different perks

Ziro is a robotics for kids kit that’ll help makers and tinkerers to build robots that can be controlled with hand gestures. The kids robotics kit is made up of individual wireless motors that, instead of the usual remote or pull back control mechanism, are controlled by a Wi-Fi connected, smart glove. Controlling the end-product feels surreal as if it were magic—something most kids and young adults will surely enjoy over and over.

The robotics kit is also ideal for children/students of all ages, and builders can expand Ziro to include up to 8 modules. The development kit is also easy to patch up and start using for experimenting in robotics, sensors, home automation and pet projects.

ZeroUI, the San Jose, the US-based startup behind the creation, promises both young and adult builders lots of fun, engagement and challenge so they can enjoy each learning moment.

Users can request additional cardboard or 3D printed plastic to expand their creation set, making the pieces re-usable, easy to assemble and highly customizable. With the Ziro robotics kit, only your imagination can limit the possibilities.

The only caveat: the company is just finalizing their Indiegogo funding campaign (200%+ over-funded), so product shipping hasn’t begun yet.

Check more details here:  | See robotics for kids on Amazon

2. 4M Doodling Robot

4M Doodling Robot, kids robots

Age: 8
Price: from $6 on Amazon

This arts kids robotics kit is quite unique and very simple to set up and bring into play. All pieces are included out of the box. Those include parts, pens, and an assembly guide.

The 4M Doodling Robot kit uses its motor to create vibrations and energetic spinning motions to doodle a picture. And you need not use your hand to guide it. Just grab a picture frame, use your imagination to set it up, connect the pieces, sit back and watch it orchestrate its mechanical and scientific genius.

Young builders can take the set up apart, rebuild it in different configurations, include different pencil colors/crayon, and adjust parts’ height and angles to come up with different art designs, colors and patterns—all great recipes for the curious mind.

Watch the 4M Doodling Robot in action here:

Buy on Amazon

3. Sphero 2.0

sphero 2.0 robotics for kidsAge: 5 and beyond
Price: $99.99

Aptly-named Sphero 2.0 is a spherical, high-tech ball that’ll help kids learn and develop a love for coding, robotics, and basic STEM principles.

The 2nd generation robotics for kids kit is also app-controlled, so young electronics maestros can indulge in and grow their love and understanding of Android, IOS, motor and wheels, inductive charging, printed and circuit tech, and how gyroscopes and accelerometers work behind the scenes—to make play so much fun and full of scientific and mechanical marvel.

The ultra-cool ball can pair with other tech devices via Bluetooth, is programmable to perform different maneuvers, lights up in multiple, different LED colors, and the Makrolon shell protects the techy innards from damage so it can last longer—strong enough to withstand 1 meter falls.

In practice, it is much simpler than it sounds; Sphero 2.0 is a fun, learning experience for the right mind. You can download SPRK lessons to take advantage of the free programming lessons and discover more fun ways to play with Sphero 2.0.

Watch Sphero 2.0 perform its magic here:  | Buy on Amazon

4. mBot Robotics for Kids

mBot Robotics for KidsAge: 8 and beyond
Price: $74.99

The mBot Robotics kit for kids is a low-cost, educational development kit for beginners. It is mainly meant to help kids learn programming and mechanical works.

The set up supports two programming tools: Arduino IDE based and another Scratch 2.0 based drag-and-drop programming tool. Those will help kids learn wall avoidance, line following and using sensors to play games, for example. mBot Kids are also not limited by wires (pull back mechanism) since the kit supports wireless (Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz module) connection.

The robotics kit for kids is pretty easy to use as it comes with color-coded RJ25 connectors and free how-to lessons, making it easy to assemble within 10 minutes.

For versatility’s sake, the piece can also attach Makeblock and Lego parts for expansion.

Check out mBot in action here:  | Buy on Amazon

5. Zoob Bot

Zoob Bot 50 Building Set, kids robotsAge: 6 and above
Price: $18

The Zoob Bot 50 Building Set is a kids’ robotic set up for creating robots and vehicles and help kids learn robot mechanics, especially assembly.

It comes packed with 54 pieces, which include 2 light-up eyes, 4 wheels, and a pull-back motor. We like that the main Zoob pieces (joints, gears, and axels) can click, pop and snap together, which makes it possible for young creative assemblers to make lots more robots of their own—and not bore easily.

The setup involves a wheel and pull-back action, which will make your kid’s Zoob Bot roll. That movement, in turn, lights up the motion-sensitive eyes. But, for the eyes to light, they need a (replaceable) battery. No battery is required for the pull-back action, though.

With all the pieces to snap, pop and clip together, and despite the set up being easy to assemble and ideal for kids under 6 years, the tiny nature of components makes them a choking hazard for this age group—hence the “over 6 years” recommendation.  | Buy on Amazon

6. Makeblock Starter Robot Kit (Bluetooth Version)

Makeblock Starter Robot Kit (Bluetooth Version), robotics for kidsAge: 5 and Above
Price: Varies with included parts ($149.99 for standard, Bluetooth Version)

Makeblock’s Starter Robot Kit provides one of the best packages for introducing younger makers into the world of robotics for kids. Essentially, the kit is meant to help engineers at heart to learn assembly, the popular Arduino Open Source Code programming, electronics, and Scratch 2.0 graphics programming from an early age.

The robotics for kids package ships with a beginner-friendly, how-to manual. So starters can easily learn the ropes of Makeblock step-by-step—includes RJ25 ports for easy wiring, and no soldering is required. This can help if the young maker is not particularly big on assembly and probably don’t have much patience to build a robot from scratch.

Makers can build either a robot tank or a three-wheeled car. Both are programmable and the parts are pretty durable too, so she or he can play with friends without worrying about breaking the robot apart.

Even if they did, they can use the components (over 40 mechanical parts in all), which include electronic modules such as an ultrasonic sensor and Bluetooth IR receiver, to re-make one of the two robot forms using mBlock based graphical programming.Makeblock is fully compatible with mBlock. That makes it possible for makers to take advantage and utilize the popular Scratch 2.0 graphics programming Open Source Code. In turn, the mBlock environment should make the programming lessons and interactive applications much easier to execute; makers only need to drag and drop function blocks to build on their programming skill and project.

Makeblock has two more versions of the Starter Robot Kit: IR Version, No Electronic Version, and the Bluetooth Version. The Bluetooth (4.0 and above) version is also compatible with IOS 7 or above and Android 2.3 or beyond devices for easy wireless control.

For an extra cost, makers can add more pieces such as a robotic arm to the setup.

Check out Makeblock Starter Robot Kit in action here:  | Buy on Amazon

7. 4M Table Top Robot for Kids

4M Table Top Robot for KidsAge: 2.5 and beyond
Price: $13.50

Approved by the Parents Choice Foundation in 2014, this smart robot for kids is sure to keep young ones interested in electronics and robotics pretty occupied. The Table Top Spider package comes with all the necessary high-quality components to create a little robotic spider that can sense the edge of, say as a table (hence “table top”) and make a swift and clever turn to avoid falling off. There’s one chassis with a motor installed, 8 legs, 2 claws, 2 axles, 2 gears, among others.

For parents wondering what to get their very young makers, the Table Top Spider kids robot is an excellent kit to start them off.

Here’s how the cool spider works including all the components and a step-by-step guide to making it work:

Buy on Amazon

What to Look For When Choosing a Robotics for Kids Kit

1. Age

What a 3-year old can handle is not something you’ll want to buy for a 12-year old. A robotics for kids starter kit is the best choice for the younger child while a kit that is more complex or can build multiple robots is ideal for the older child.

You’ll also need to observe your much younger engineer to help determine what will foster their creativity and interest while you can just ask the 12-year what they think would best suit their robotics curiosity. That’ll determine if he/she loses interest in the kit within a couple of hours of purchase or the building blocks will offer a lasting, joyful experience.

2. Aimed Purpose

Did their robotics teacher ask that you buy for them particular kids’ robotics kits for specific educational purposes? If this is the case, then it is best to go with the direction of the teacher.

If that is not the case, then examine your child’s desires and also what you’d like to see them achieve from their robotics experience. For example, is your young engineer keen on construction plans and construction works? Are they big fans of electronics? Or could they have that near fanatical love for anything locomotive? There is a robot for kids kit for that special young engineer in your care.

3. Ease of Use

A complex kit will surely keep the young ones entertained for longer; they know there is something new they can build up after whatever setup they’ve achieved constructing.

However, depending on the child, complexity may achieve the opposite. It can serve to bore them, especially is they can quite configure how to get it all to work. Hence, seek for something that strikes that delicate balance between fun and learning. You can even ask for help, too.

4. Versatility

In line with the points made above, seek a robotics for kids setup that’ll help stretch your kid’s imagination and foster their creativity. Be sure to get a robotics kit that can at the very least build up 2-3 robots, especially if you have an older child. You might be wanting to keep them well engaged and entertained, not bored.

5. Value for Money

It is not just about considering the robotics for kids kit prices. Rather, examine what extra specs, features, and creative solutions one kit brings compared to another. For example, some kids’ robots come with accompanying mobile apps, voice or gesture control, and other advanced mechatronics. Those robotics for kids could help expand your child’s learning scope, imagination and STEM knowledge base, which can translate to the “real world” in a remarkable way.

In Conclusion

Kids’ robots are a fun, creative and remarkably modern way of not only keeping young engineers entertained and their creative minds ticking but also a cool way to help nourish their STEM potential. Hopefully, the above 7 best educational robots for kids kits help engage your young engineer to bring out the best in them.

Are Robotics for Kids a real LEGO Killer? What do you think? Comment below and let us know!

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  1. Hamish

    Hi Thanks for the interesting article.
    I am currently putting together some STEMM programmes for the local libraries. I went through a process of assessing 27 different “robotics” kits, including lego mindstorm, mBot, makeblock starter robot, Ollie, and Sphero. I developed a number of assessment criteria to measure them against each other and come up with an overall score. These were construction challenge, coding challenge, flexibility, and coding relevance. The last one was added in as a measure of whether the coding environment was one of a type, or whether it had links to higher powered programming. I was also mindful of the fact that graphical programming environments were going to become bigger and more sophisticated as time goes on.
    The end of the evaluation pointed to the mBot being a great one for flexibility, coding, and coding relevance. With the ability to add more sensors and actuators, and construct extra things for it meant that it bridged nicely between early learning coding and arduino microcontroller projects. The other kits we purchased were Lego Mindstorm EV3s with some Technical Lego to expand its usefulness. With the Lego, the coding relevance was a low score because it is not that similar to anything else. Where the Lego had the advantage was the construction side where the robotics workshops would involve teamwork (a valuable skill to built) to construct and programme the robots to carryout certain tasks and challenges. Another kits we have been considering but not purchased is the EZ-B which is basically the controller and you need to build the bodies and hardware to go with it. This would be good for advanced robotics education programmes.
    Within our list, there were a number of “robots” in the educational space like the Sphero, Ollie, Ozobot, Bee-bot, and the like which were nothing more than toys and rated very poorly in our assessment.
    Now the hard part begins where we get these robotics programmes happening.

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