With inquiry-based learning becoming more popular in classrooms over the last few years to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts, robot kits have become one of the premier learning instruments used.
The hands-on concepts taught by these kits are immensely popular, which has led to robot kits being purchased independently by parents for their kids to use at home.
There are many reasons why these kits are valuable to children, namely because the kits promote problem-solving skills and prepare kids for future jobs while allowing them to have fun using them. Because these kits have become so popular, the market has been inundated with quite the variety to choose from, sometimes at an overwhelming rate. Once you’ve decided to buy a robot kit, how do you choose which one to buy?
There are plenty of resources available online to provide you with reviews of various kits, and today we’ll discuss what to look for when choosing a kit.
What age range are you buying for?
The robot kit market can generally be divided up into three target age groups:
- Children under 8 years old,
- under 15 years old, and
Some kits are primarily made for children under a certain age, while other kits can be used by both older children and younger children with adult assistance. Adult kits can usually be used by older teens. Consider what sort of kit you want to buy, and your child’s experience level. For example, if they’re young but already have some experience with these types of kits, you may wish to buy a more advanced kit. Additionally, read reviews for the kits — some kits are marketed toward a certain age group but reviews show that the kit actually proves harder/easier than expected.
What do you want your kid(s) to learn?
Some kits have more of a focus on constructing a robot. Other kits have a heavier focus on coding and computer science. Some kits allow for a lot of customization, while others don’t allow for any. Decide what your child is interested in learning about. There are also plenty of kits that touch a little bit on everything, too.
Some kits are themed
There are Star Wars themed kits, robot kits that look like dogs, kits that look like trash cans, and kits that can be changed into multiple different things, among many others.
Buy a kit for your child that will interest them, whether that’s Star Wars, animals, or music.
Consider what external devices will be needed
Some kits can only be controlled using an app on a smartphone or tablet, and some require a tablet specifically. Be sure to read the fine print on the kit to make sure your family has the devices needed.
Be aware that kits with a heavier emphasis on coding are typically the ones that require the most technology access, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, and/or computer.
Price: What’s a Reasonable Cost?
Robot kits can be bought for as little as $20 or as much as several hundred dollars. How much you want to spend is completely up to you. Typically, lower-priced kits have one or two functions, while spending a little more can yield you a multifunction kit than has many pieces and a variety of activities included. Many of these sorts of kits can typically be found in the $60–100 price range.
We recently named the Elegoo UNO Project Upgraded Smart Car as the best recently manufactured robot kit ; it costs around $75 and includes over 20 different modules. You don’t have to break the bank to buy a kit; but if you do want to spend a bit more, you can end up with a kit that’s versatile and ready to perform many activities.
These five considerations will get you started on the right track to find the perfect robot kit for your child. The best kits break complex topics into fun activities that teach your child the concept at hand; typical complaints for kits say that the kit was too complex for the child to complete alone despite the kit being marketed toward that age range, so keep that in mind if your child plans to work on it independently. In addition to deciding what your child needs in a kit, also be sure to read reviews for various kits to make sure there aren’t problems with any of the kits you are considering. Some kits have certain features that other kits don’t have, so do your research and be open to considering a variety of kits.