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After researching over 100 products, we’ve bought and tested 9 of the best robot kits for kids on the market today. We’ve carefully evaluated and directly compared these educational toys for their mechanical, electrical, and coding components. We also appreciate the flexibility and durability, how fun and interesting each training program is, of course. Our expert recommendations are based on nearly ten years of experience in STEM education. This review will help you find the perfect robotics or computer programming tool for your needs and budget.
Build Your Own Robot Adults
Do you want to stimulate your child’s imagination? Boost their learning and interest with exciting gadgets like a top-rated 3D printer, the best tablet for kids, or a drone for kids. Our detailed review includes cool accessories like VR headsets, nerf guns, and hoverboards, so you can play too.
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Editor’s Note: We updated our review of Robot Kits on November 29, 2022 to confirm that the recommendations in this article are current.
If you want to get your kids into robotics, the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox is a great set. The kit covers multiple levels of projects that start out slow and easy and gradually increase in complexity. Boost Creative Toolbox has an intuitive and easy-to-use block-based coding GUI, and the package comes with clear and detailed assembly instructions for each of the five main templates. No prior knowledge of electronics is required to use this kit. All of these features mean that this kit is accessible even for complete beginners and will allow your child to grow into a confident young roboticist with more levels. This set does a great job of blending and balancing organized play with room for creative expression. Once you’ve completed the 60+ activities included in this set, there are plenty of opportunities to expand with additional Lego products. Activities include building a robot sheriff with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and building an automated factory that makes miniature Lego creations. Troubleshooting is easy with this kit. Overall, we highly recommend the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox for kids getting into robotics over any other option on the market.
While we love this beginner’s kit, the design and structured activities of the Boost Creative Toolbox may not appeal to older middle schoolers, as it is designed for younger children. Over time, you’ll find that your child outgrows Boost gear, as there are fewer options to expand with additional actuators or motors than with non-Lego-based sets. However, it’s still one of our favorite robots for kids because it’s so much fun and allows for a very sophisticated introduction to mechanical and software design.
If Lego-based robotics isn’t your thing, check out the Makeblock mBot as an introduction to robotics. The kit allows direct connection to common components of industrial robots and remains user-friendly in a way that is accessible to novices. Step-by-step 3D instructions are easy to follow, and once you’ve created the mBot, the app guides you through the game. It also comes pre-programmed with three different modes of operation, allowing you to run after it’s built.
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However, the mBot uses machine screws of simple dimensions, so it’s easier to use and requires more skill than assembling Lego or other plastic parts. Some complex assembly problems may require adult assistance. I wish this set had needle nose pliers. Although you can cover a fairly large area with the standard setup, customizing your mBot without buying additional components is a bit more difficult. If your kids want a change of pace with Lego robotics at school, or if you’re looking for a tool to gain a broader understanding of mechatronics and you don’t have anything else, we think the mBot is a great option. with a slightly steeper learning curve and compared to purchasing some additional components.
If you find advanced robotics kits for kids intimidating, or want to introduce programming at the elementary school level, the Sphero Mini is our pick. It doesn’t require much technical knowledge to get started and offers excellent skill progression. You can first control it remotely, then write a program to direct its actions with input from the sensor, such as stopping when it hits a wall or saying “ouch” when a drop falls. Sphero packs a lot of sensors into a portable package, giving you a lot of programming power for a relatively low price.
Keeping your child interested in the Sphero Mini requires a little creativity on your part. There isn’t much to the set, just little bowling pins, animated cones, and no obvious skill progression. This gives you plenty of opportunities to encourage your kids to think creatively, whether it’s building a cardboard maze, writing a program that lets the Sphero Mini solve it, or using the canvas feature to paint with your robot. There are many similar activities available online from Sphero and other sources, but keep in mind that you need to complete these challenges to increase the interest level. The Sphero Mini can handle some pretty rough play, but it probably won’t survive a big drop or step—two very valid issues with its size. However, if you’re on a budget, this is a great robotics tool to get kids interested in computer science and coding.
If you’re looking for an affordable and accessible way to introduce hands-on robotics to your kids, the 4M Tin Can Robot is a great place to start. The robot’s body uses a recycled soda can, which provides a good foundation for introducing recycling concepts beyond basic mechanical and electrical lessons. It’s relatively easy to put together, only takes an hour or two to put together, and allows kids to express their creativity by decorating the foil.
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Unfortunately, once the building stops, so does the use of this robot. You can’t do this after it’s fully assembled. The only way to control his movement is to move forward in a straight line. In addition, another interactive aspect is changing the position of the eyes and hands. All other activities should come from your child’s play imagination. This robotics kit gives you a chance to further your interest in robotics and test the waters with a cheaper alternative before investing in a more expensive product. However, we don’t think its appeal will last long.
If you’re having a hard time getting your kids away from their Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit might be the perfect option. Nintendo has created an incredibly fun and interactive learning environment that shows the natural progression of activities, even with built-in assessments to determine if you’re paying attention. There are five different projects, each with clear and easy-to-follow instructions and ideas on how to expand and modify them, so you can continue to learn and play after creating them. Nintendo does a great job of showing you how things work using interactive dialogue with your virtual Labo development team. Plus, it has a drag-and-drop GUI to introduce programming and algorithmic thinking.
While we think Nintendo Labo is great overall, it’s not without its flaws. The innovative cardboard design is cool, but lacks the durability of plastic or metal robots. Spilled juice effectively destroys most parts. If you frequently assemble and disassemble your cardboard creation, the clip and slot design will wear out over time and have limited expansion. Currently, Nintendo doesn’t offer any hardware expansion, and there’s no way to integrate third-party motors or sensors. However, Nintendo Labo is a good choice to get kids interested in video games interested in hands-on projects, engineering design, and programming. If you have a Switch system, the price is relatively low.
If you’re looking for a robotics tool for kids that goes beyond programming Legos, Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 is the tool for you. The set comes with over 550 parts and instructions for ten different robots, including a robot tank with arms, a catapult, a walking ant, and even a camera cart. It comes with a variety of sensors and can be programmed with both the graphics block and the
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