Botzees - the Augmented Reality Construction and Coding Kit for Kids
Coding for Kids Made Fun
Find someone old enough and ask them about the toys from their childhood — no digital and possibly mechanical but otherwise the plastic and wood only represented things that imagination had to bring out. Flash forward to today and kids have it too easy, what with smartphone games and endless entertainment opportunities. Good thing pai technologies didn’t jump on that bandwagon, but instead thinks that kids can learn stuff while having fun. Which brings us to Botzees, the augmented reality construction and coding kit.
So Botzees says what it wants to help children (4 and up) do: create, program & play. It’s sort of like a construction kit — think Legos jacked up — with elements of coding required to make the robot-oriented results work. And yes parents can come along for the ride, but this isn’t that old canard of mom or dad having to do all the work while the kid waits impatiently to play with the end results.
Botzees comes in a box with a carry handle and that’s good — inside are 130 pieces waiting to be dealt with. So let’s take a leaf from what it says on the box and create, program and play. Or provide the child with the opportunity for doing so, is what we’re really saying.
Creating a Botzee
Create means taking the various parts and putting them together — either in predetermined ways that are provided for six different configurations (we’ll get to that in a moment) or by going the “LEGO” route of picking and choosing from the parts and assembling them into shapes taken out of imagination. The pieces are easy to grip and designed with a tactile sensation to make them appealing to the child to clutch at. Add rounded edges for a simple safety point of view and children will grab at them instinctively. So as should be obvious, no tools or screws or potential dangerous device are needed to manage the various parts together so as to create a robot that uses the two sensors and the one motor to make it active. Yes, it’s all about creating robots or, as the name is called courtesy of the box art, a Botzee.
Coding A Botzee
While assembling the blocks is fairly simple, aid in this can come from the downloading iOS/Android app (free). The app provides a wealth of details and applications, from being a “remote control” for controlling a Botzee to providing AR (augmented reality) for viewing and learning about coding through gaming. Because of this, parents will find it more useful to work the app from a tablet than the smaller phone screen. Or maybe not — again this is a personal preference. What’s important is that the AR is teaching coding in a fun and intriguing manner that will not bore the child (not that the parent can’t benefit from this also). The digital world the AR creates lets the child interact through his Botzee with characters and procedural methods that help drive the coding home through the 30 games provided (teaching the fundamentals of coding concepts visually and so making lsequencing, looping, and conditional coding palatable and understandable). The child can thus use what has been learned to create codes that will affect the Botzee — making it move around,dance and even “talk” (you have to hear it to get what it means by placing parenthesis around the word).
STEM education is all about showing how the scientific approach can be applied to real life and so the value of a coding-oriented STEM toy like Botzee is that it can help prepare the child for the digital future that has rushed in like the tide and washed over pretty much every aspect of life. One where the child approaches coding later in life as a friend and not with trepidation or concern. Through “fun,” a Botzee takes the (sometimes) wasted screen time that children now inhabit and turns it into a useful aspect that can grow with them into their future. Not that every child will turn into a coding genius, although who knows? — but it provides an educational path without limiting or inhibiting playtime. After all, who doesn’t like robots? And so who wouldn’t want their child to be enamored by an augmented reality robotics kit. Who?