Nowadays robotic kits for kids become more popular among young engineers and their parents. It is not a surprise because robotics for kids and accordingly constructors bring together a range of scientific disciplines (from physics to programming) and allow to immerse into these disciplines in a game form. There is a wide range of kits for children of different ages, with different interests and different levels of knowledge.
What distinguishes robotics toys?
First of all, the common feature of all educational robotic kits is that they are not just made as a game but also have an educational function (the name of the kits speaks for itself). The kits for school students can be accompanied by textbooks, workbooks, glossaries, teacher’s materials, and others. The robot toys for younger groups, especially for preschoolers, as a rule, don’t include voluminous teaching materials but a child doesn’t just play with it but can also learn mechanisms, laws of physics and logic in simple terms.
One more feature of these kits is the focus on mechanisms, sensors, physics as a whole and programming. Of course, the robotic kits for children of 4-6 years old do not offer to set up and program a humanlike android. The robotics in the early stages is studying different models and simple work with motors, whereas programmed robotic toys can be offered to a secondary school student and in this case, they do not just set up a model but also program its actions.
Robotics toys: age groups
As whole children from 4-5 and up to 14-15 years will find their kits to study robotics. A thought out set will correspond to the level of knowledge of a young engineer – the older a child is the more complicated the models become. The majority of manufacturers offer products for the next age groups (the classification is quite relative enough and depends on a brand).
- 4-6 years. These are the main features of kits for preschoolers: easy-to-understand models, large and bright parts and exciting content. As a rule, a child is offered to put together cars, planes, animals, etc in order to understand what a mechanism is. The purpose of these sets, among other things, is to develop small motor skills, attention, perseverance, imagination, and creativity, to teach teamwork.
- 7-9 years. Robotics kit for primary students becomes more complicated: this applies to both models and topics. Children become more familiar with laws and phenomena of physics and learn how different sensors work and so on. That’s why such kits can be used on physics or environmental class as illustrative material. Many sets offer to build a car, but also to make it move: drive off the table edges, move on black lines and so on.
- 10-15 years. Kits for an older group implies almost complete immersion in the robotics (except for modeling and printing the parts, although Fischertechnik and Makeblock have sets that allow to assemble and set up a real 3D-printer). In this case, the work with mechanisms goes together with programming. The kits can come with programmed and nonprogrammed cards in order for the future engineer to understand how they operate in general and try to program it themself.
Brands on the robotics kits market
Among the most popular brands in the world of robotics kits for kids, there are LEGO Education, Engino, Fischertechnik and Makeblock. Below we have more information about their hits.
LEGO Education Kits
And one of the most famous brands in construction sets world is also one of the leaders of educational direction. It is the LEGO sets that are used in many schools and clubs. The versatility of the kits, a wide range of materials for teacher and availability of workbooks have played a considerable role.
The manufacturer offers a number of editions for different ages.
- A good option for little kids will be «First machines» (5+) or «Simple machines» (7+). Playing with this kit does not require any additional skills and the kit itself will introduce to a child what a mechanism is and how it works. A future engineer will learn how to leverages, gear wheels and many other parts work.
- Editions WeDo and WeDo 2.0 will allow children of 7-10 years to assemble their first real robot. The sets contain a lot of parts for its body, different sensors (motion sensor, tilt sensor and so on), specialized software, teaching materials etc.
- Let’s make a separate group that kits review in details various topics connected with physics, technology and other disciplines. I’m referring to such sets like «Pneumatics Add-on Set», «Renewable Energy Add-on Set» and others.
- MINDSTORMS Education EV3 is the most complicated robotic kits of those offered by the manufacturer and is intended for middle school students. These kits allow to assemble a completely programmable robot with different sensors that can interact with other robots from LEGO.
We recommend to read a detailed review of LEGO Education on our website.
This German manufacturer has also prepared kits for children of different ages. For example, there’s a series of several educational kits offered to 5 years old. Each of these kits allows kids to build several models of cars, planes, lift cranes and various other objects for children.
For children of 7 years and older, the brand offers more difficult kits. For example, to put together a tractor with a remote control, or a car that will move using solar panels energy. Also, Fischertechnik creates kits for studying pneumatics, optical phenomena, dynamics laws, fuel cells, and various energy types. These and other educational robotic kits will help children to study different sides of school physics in a game form and what is more important to translate theory into practice.
The brand Engino has a wide choice of different educational robotic kits: programmed and nonprogrammed; with and without engines. Separate kits are focused on creating cars, motorcycles, planes, special-purpose machinery and so on. These sets allows to set up models of relevant topics. Engino also offers special edition robotic kits for girls.
We would like to note Engino Mechanical Science and Engino Discovering STEM editions, as thanks to them, a child will learn different physics phenomena such as work of leverages, wedges, cranks, worm gears, will discover Newton’s laws and solar energy, and will be immersed in many other areas. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the kits are focused on these exact areas.
The most interesting robotic kits come from the Makeblock brand, as you can use it directly right after assembly and setting. It is, for example, «Laserbot» (a robot-engraver) or Airblock Drone that allows to assemble a drone or a boat on an air cushion. Such sets come with everything you need for the proper work of the device. For example, for the engraver, contains a laser head, corbels, motors, software, and all the parts needed.
However, these kits are complicated and are suitable for middle school students. But if you are looking for a set for a younger engineer then offer them a kit from the mBot edition. Such a robotic kit will introduce a child to the basics of programming, working with sensors and so on. You can manage the robot by both remote control and smartphone (if it is a Bluetooth edition). Check out the detailed review of Makeblock on our website before buying it!
Also, an interesting choice will be the kits Ranger and Makeblock DIY Ultimate Robot Kit 2.0. by Makeblock. It is more complicated robotic toys that allow to put together not only basic models but also create a robot of your own! There are a lot of parts for creativity in the kit. It is very important to mention that all kits from Makeblock can be complemented by the parts from both Makeblock and LEGO sets.
We recommend to read a detailed review of Makeblock kits on our website!
Developmental robotics kits from other brands
Apart from the brands listed above, there are also products from other manufacturers on the market that deserve to be considered for purchasing:
Modular Robotics Set by Robo Wunderkind
It is a reliable block kit that will serve for years. It is excellent for both boys and girls. Recommended age is from 6 to 12 years old. This kit allows to create your own robot from special modular blocks. You can download a special application that allows to control the robot with a smartphone (it is available on iOS and Android). The application is very simple in use and creating your own programs. Your child will be happy!
Education Code Kit by littleBits
It’s an educational set that develops programming skills in children. It allows children to study the basics of programming and electronics by creating really unique things. For example, a child can program some sort of animation, music or game with the help of drag and drop interface. It is excellent for school STEM-clubs and home experiments.
Physics Science Lab by Teenii
This set is excellent for middle and high school. In the kit, you will find everything you need for studying physics phenomena such as electricity and magnetism. There is a colorful 18 chapter instructions in the kit that explain all experiments and give interesting scientific facts. It is one of the best kits to study mathematics and physics in my opinion.
Ultimate Starter Kit for Raspberry Pi 3 B by Yahboom
It is a good kit for beginners in electronics, robotics, and programming. It allows to assemble a flexibly programmable robot on wheels. There is an HD-camera included in the kit that is an advantage, for example, over mBot Range from Makeblock (a direct competitor of this model). In the kit, you can also find all the necessary materials for the first steps in robotics. It comes with an illustrative guide that explains everything you need to successfully create your own robot. It’s worth noting high-quality software of this manufacturer: a block interface will be intuitively understood by every child!
Robot Toy by Robobloq
It is one more high-quality set-analog of mBot from Makeblock. The model is good quality nevertheless we would recommend to choose mBot, as materials of the toys from Makeblock are of higher quality. However, this kit is worth mentioning in our top choices and will also be a good choice for beginners in programming or engineering.