We tend to think of technological toys as mere entertainers of children, forgetting their gigantic educational possibilities. Robots seem little more than remote-controlled dolls to us, yet they turn out to be a wonderful gateway to incorporating digital skills into children’s development. As we pointed out in the article on programming with Scratch , learning information technology, on the one hand, and training in programming, on the other, develop skills that will be basic regardless of the child’s future profession. In short, robots are a very important part of this learning , apart from being toys that do not leave any child (or adult) indifferent.
7+ LEGO Education WeDo
WeDo is the range of the LEGO company designed for children from 7 years . It allows, with the basic box, to build 12 robotic figures and program them by connecting them to a computer via USB through the Scratch program or the LEGO software .
Very fun in its construction phase, it allows, through the subsequent programming of its proximity and inclination sensors and its motor, to animate the created figure. Thus, the child is introduced to the basic elements of programming and robotics.
The LEGO WeDo software allows us to have, along with the programming interface, targeted themed activities, although we can also find educational ideas and resources on the LEGO website . This softwareIt is not essential to enjoy all the recreational and educational power of LEGO WeDo , since the resources available on the Internet, together with the free download software from MIT Scratch, are sufficient to extract all its possibilities.
10+ Mindstorms EV3
The Mindstorms concept in its veteran EV3 range is a qualitative step by LEGO in its educational robotics range. Aimed at boys and girls from 10 years old, it contains a multiport controller to centralize the sensor data and act as a programming and data recording interface, an ultrasound distance sensor, a light sensor capable of detecting colors and intensity of light, and gyro sensors that will allow the child to build, program and control their robotic models. It is simply an amazing toy that, at an early age, will undoubtedly need adult support to become a great educational tool.
Like the previous range, it has extensive educational resources on the LEGO website where we can download the instructions necessary to build, program and control robots like TRACK3R or the fascinating R3PTAR .
5+ Zowi by BQ
With the motto “Designed by engineers for future engineers”, the company BQ proposes ZOWI , the Spanish version of a simple robot with a free license designed to introduce the child to the concepts of programming and robotics. BQ offers us a game / application that allows us to unlock the robot’s functions as we go along, which makes gradual and motivating learning very easy . The product allows you to assemble and disassemble it, interact with the toy by touching it or program it with its own interface, a very simple and intuitive Scratch-type program.
Despite its apparent simplicity, Zowi has proximity sensors by ultrasound and pressure, which together with its motors allows the robot programming to have a long route, not stopping at the mere management of movements. A review of the extensive Zowi website will show us all its possibilities.
Arduino: a world of kits
The possibilities offered by Arduino , the free hardware platform designed to facilitate the use of electronics, to control different types of sensors, motors or lights make it the ideal base for the development of educational robotics projects. Composed of a board with a microcontroller, having its own programming environment has allowed different manufacturers to develop their robotic toys based on it.
A good start in the world of robotics with Arduino can be mBot from the company MakeBlock , a simple set to start children in programming and robotics, or Poppy , a fun humanoid. These two examples allow us to intuit the immense possibilities of growth of Arduino.
Along with general distributors, such as Amazon , we find specialized portals, sometimes linked to physical stores, where we can find this type of toy together with adequate advice and complementary educational material. A notable example is Robotica .
They are ideal gifts for Christmas that require the active participation of the adult in children’s play, especially at an early age, in order to take full advantage of their training potential.
The Lego WeDo type starter kits, or simple robots with ready-made programming interfaces like BQ’s Zowi, are undoubtedly the best gateway to this type of toy.
For a deeper understanding of the exciting world of robotics, kits based on Arduino or the most advanced, Mindstorms, will be the way to go.