Robots are a great tool to motivate kids to learn math, science, and technology integrated with engineering. There are many at-home robotics kits on the market that range in difficulty for young children through high school and college age children as well. This is a great at-home activity for families to do together. Here are some robotics kits and toys that you might consider.
Hexbug is one of the new toys on the market that is actually a robot. These bug-like robots are autonomous, which means that it acts on its own without human intervention. The robot wiggles around and crawls like a bug. If the bug flips over on its back, it is able to flip back to its feet. There are different sizes and types of Hexbugs and are perfect for budding engineers. There is no setup required for this robot and is more of a fun toy to encourage exploration and build interest in robots. This would be a perfect introduction to robots.
Lego Mindstorms is a robotics kit that you can buy at the toy store. The kit includes the computer controller, sensors, motors, and the Lego pieces. With the NXT 2.0 kit you can build many different types of robots including a humanoid robot, a machine, and an animal. After building the robot, the child uses the computer and the other components to program the robot. Following the directions provided in the kits, a child should be able to make and program a simple robot in about 30 minutes. Within the directions provided, there are also challenges for the child to program for the robot. Achieving these challenges will be very fulfilling especially for a child’s first experience of writing the code. The product has gotten great reviews and is easy enough for an upper-elementary child to build and program, but is also for fun all ages 10 and up.
OWI Frightened Grasshopper Kit
The OWI Grasshopper Kit is a great robot kit for kids. The grasshopper is made using only a few components and a solar powered back. This kit is great not only for kids to build a robot, but also to learn how the sun can create energy. From reviews, it seems to have hard instructions and the toy is a bit fragile. A parent should assist in building the robot, but it would be a great activity to do together. Check out a video of the cute bug!
There are tons of other robot inspired toys out on the market. Check out some of these websites to find a robot that fits your child’s age requirements and desired complexity level. Some of the robots are more toys that educational products, but they can still help for children to build learning experiences and positive attitudes toward having fun with science, math, and technology.
Article By Laura Ketcham-VanHellemont
Picture By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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