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Top 7 Robot Building Kits For Kids!
My Son Loves Building Robots and I Have Become a Robot Kit Building Geekazoid! Here Is What I Learned...
Robots and Robot building kits are my favorite subjects, and I know you are going to find the kit that you and your son or daughter will enjoy and learn from.
The robot pictured here is an amazing design that has a computer that was programmed, a sound sensor, touch sensor, ultrasonic sensor, and a light sensor. And you and your children can build one just like it! Or you can build something a little less advanced but still a whole lot of fun like the Ollo (see below).
Not All Robot Kits Are The Same! Some robot kits are snap together, some require soldering, and others require all of the above. But then again, some of them don't have good directions or support (and you need directions and support because there's a lot of parts and programming to do in some cases).
But you know what the coolest thing is about this? Even the most frustrating aspects of robot building are educational experiences for yourself and your child! With all that said lets dig in with one of my favorite all time programmable robot building sets on the planet...
LEGO Mindstorms For Kids:
The Lego Mindstorms is a large robot kit that children and adults will both love. What is interesting about this toy is the fact that it is a robot which talks, feels, sees and moves. With all of this sophistication, it is probably more suitable for kids that are 10 years of age or older. Adults will love it simply for the technological aspect of it. I know I am amazed to use this toy and also a little jealous that it didn't exist when I was a kid.
When my son and I first opened the Mindstorms NXT 2.0 box, there was a bag full of robotic parts. The bag is actually labeled "start here." I figured that meant those were the pieces of the robot that we had to put together. I checked the manual and sure enough it was. The manual gave very simple instructions for putting this together.
However, I was surprised that we had to actually program the robot. When I first saw the word "programming" in the instructions I kind of freaked out. I was imagining that they wanted the user to be a computer programmer or something.
Luckily, it was nothing like that. There was programming software included with the robot and it was an easy drag-and-drop interface to work with. But the problem is the instruction manual doesn't really explain how to use the software. It just tells you what the basic functions of it do. I was hoping for a tutorial or something more. The only way I could learn the programming was to edit the sample programs that came with it and learn that way.
Overall, it is an awesome toy. At least it isn't something that my son will get bored of quickly because there is so much you can do with this robot. You can rebuild it, reshape it and reprogram it to do other things. The toy is a little expensive but still worth the money for everything you can do with it.
Mindstorms Example Video. - This is one type of creation you can model...
This is a cool Mindstorms creation. And it's one of countless robots you can make and program using the Lego Mindstorms robot kit.
Spybotics Shadowstrike Robot Kit:
I remember when I was a kid how simple building Legos used to be. I would get a couple of multi colored building blocks that snapped together and then I built a cool little house with it. Now days, kids are building robotic people and cars out of Legos. It certainly proves the theory that every generation is smarter than the last generation.
When I opened this Lego Spybotics Shadowstrike box, it had well over 200 pieces that needed to be put together. The worst part was there were no instructions included in how to do that. The manual said to go on the Lego website for a complete tutorial on how to build this Shadowstrike spy toy. So, I went on their website and found the instructions.
The only problem was it wouldn't let me print them out. They forced me to keep going back to the monitor while I was trying to build it. I cannot tell you how aggravating it was to put this 223-piece Spybotics kit together while having to keep going back to my monitor for what to do next. Unfortunately, I don't have a laptop to be mobile with the directions and this made it even more difficult.
Once I finally got this robotic toy put together, it was great fun! The remote control that comes with the kit makes driving the robotic spy cart very easy for my son to use. When we tried it outside, the speed of this thing was like a rocket. It was also able to withstand rocky terrain and that surprised me. When I was a kid I had remote control cars and they would always get stuck if the terrain wasn't flat.
This robotic toy is like a Mars rover made out of Legos, but with better speed. Overall, it is a great toy for your kids but I wouldn't recommend making them put it together or else they'll end up crying within the first hour after they get it. Try putting it together first for your kids, so they don't have to go through the anxiety and disappointment of putting together 223 little Lego pieces.
OLLO Explorer Kit:
This OLLO Explorer Robot Kit is the perfect way to teach your child about engineering and programming. There are over 450 pieces, which can be a little intimidating at first. However, this is not a toy that you are supposed to just put together quickly and enjoy.
The whole point of this kit is to learn about building and programming, rather than just playing with it. I like that about this toy. I've tried many Lego robot kits and they don't really emphasize the educational value as much as OLLO does. This kit comes with instructions on how to build various models with the available pieces given.
After you get experience building these sample models, you have the freedom to try to build your own models. With its unique modular building system, you can build customized robots easily. Best of all, the pieces are easy to put together and take apart without any fear of them breaking after consistent use. My son will not get bored with this for a long time. The kit comes with weekly quizzes to keep your attention and test your skills.
This is a great way for my son to get education on basic robotics while having fun at the same time! I recommend this toy for children over 10 years old. The only deterring thing about this toy is the cost. I don't get why it has to be so expensive. If you can shop for a used one, I'd recommend doing that.
Ollo Kit For Sale Limited Quantities:
These can be hard to get because they are unique, educational, and lower cost than mindstorm. This is an excellent educational science toy for kids and lots of fun.
K'Nex Ultra 2.0 Robot Kit
This is a cool robot kit. The robot is almost like a transformer because it can turn into various character models. Some models being a robot, dragon, guard, tank and a dog. But it doesn't stop there because each character comes with their own personality that can be programmed into them. Not only do they have personality, but they respond to voice, sight and touch.
For example, the guard model can actually be used as a security guard for your house. Just program the cyber keys on your cyber controller and set the robot down somewhere that an intruder might pass. The infrared sensor will detect anyone that passes it and when that happens, it sounds an alarm. I never actually thought a toy like this could have some helpful uses in real life situations.
The programmable keys already come with the kit and then there are others you can download off the internet. I think looking for personalities on the internet to download is a nice way of keeping the consumer interested in the product. It is suspenseful wondering what else I can turn my robot into.
There are instructions on the internet on how to make custom models along with programming customized personalities for them. The robot takes 4 AA batteries and 6 AAA batteries, which I think is a lot. Worst of all, they don't come with the robot and they run out fast. Still, it is worth it. I am not ashamed to admit that I am an adult who loves this robot kit and who bought it for himself. Perhaps I will let my son use it when I am done.
Elenco Escape Robot:
On the box this looked like a neat toy to buy for my 6-year-old son. When we opened up the kit and read the manual, I was shocked that it required a soldering iron to put the pieces together.
I guess I was assuming the pieces would snap together like Legos or something. I am not a big fan of soldering because it is an alloy that commonly contains lead in it. I don't want to get lead poisoning trying to put a simple toy together and I certainly don't want my son to get it either.
However, I was assured by the company that the solder contained a lead-free alloy. So, I decided to give it a shot since I had already invested $30 in this kit. I felt like I was building a computer circuit board since they make you solder together these small capacitors and resistors. Then you have to integrate various circuits onto the circuit board. After that mess was all done, it didn't work! I admit I am no expert at soldering, so I ended up bring it to a friend that reassembled it for me with his soldering iron.
Luckily, it ended up working after that. But really, was it necessary for the Elenco Company to make it this hard to put together? I mean it is a great toy after it is built, but assembling a circuit board is a tad much. I do like how it has infrared detectors to avoid obstacles and walls.
But still, I am so angry about the beginning process of building this robot that I don't care anymore and neither does my son. He has already lost interest. Word of advice, put it together for your kids first because they won't like the soldering process at all.
The Scarab Robot:
I guess I am used to having circuit boards in electronic devices already prepared ahead of time for me. This is the second robotic kit that I have ever bought which requires me to be a soldering master.
I guess Elenco really wants kids to get hands on experience with building something from every level. The problem is they don't teach soldering in schools and this kit requires you to have at least "intermediate" experience with it.
Why does putting together a children's toy require so much technical skill? Couldn't they have had the circuit board prepared already? Well, I don't have any soldering experience and my son sure doesn't. I had to basically get my friend, who works in PC repair, to help me out with this. So, after it was put together it seemed to work fine.
Scarab apparently is the name of the robot and it has two sensors on it that detect obstacles in its path. When it detects them, it moves backwards and then does two different maneuvers away from it. They will either be a left turn, right turn, reverse or simply a stop. You can program the robot with which moves you want it to do after obstacle detection.
Overall, this is a fun toy if you like building things and soldering. If you hate that kind of stuff then get a friend to put it together for you because the soldering part will drive you crazy. As for the toy itself, it is neat and impressive. A kid would surely enjoy it.
My Favorite Non Soldering Programmable Robot Kit:
USB Boe-Bot Kit!
This is the best robotics kit I have found yet. Finally, I have found a kit that doesn't require me to be a master at soldering. I can't tell you how many kits I have gone through that required me to be an intermediate or expert at the soldering craft.
Anyway, the Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot is fun and simple for a kid to put together. I like that it has a USB connection to use with your computer. That makes transferring data and new programs to it so much easier.
However, what annoys me about this robot kit is that you have to familiarize yourself with the BASIC programming language. Other robot kits never had you learn a programming language. If anything, they just had a drag and drop interface that was simple for anyone to use. With the Parallax Robot Kit, you have to study the Board of Education guide to learn the commands of BASIC.
It does come with 41 BASIC source codes that have preprogrammed activities on them. These source codes will be the best way to learn any kind of programming with this robot. Just study them and play around with the coding a little bit.
Your children will probably understand it better than you since they are being brought up in the technological age. But again, at least there is no soldering required! That is my favorite aspect. Overall, a fun robot kit if you don't mind familiarizing yourself with the BASIC programming language.