Robotics kit for an 8 year old?
September 9, 2019 9:59 AM   Subscribe

My 8 year old is interested in finding a robot/robotics model-type kit that he can build and work with on his own, w/little or no assistance from me. Looking for suggestions from the parents, teachers, and parent/teacher adjacent among you who have direct experience w/the options.

He's reasonably good with tools, and can use a screwdriver, real scissors, pocket knife, hot glue gun, etc. w/out much supervision. We got one of these last year, but the gear assembly and the threading of the wiring was (in part due to the somewhat opaque instructions) too difficult for him to do alone, and it broke not long after we finished it just in the course of normal use. Looking for something simple and durable, yet complex, engaging and flexible to hold his attention and merit the expense. If there is a simple programming aspect to it, that would be a bonus. Thanks in advance, hivemind.
posted by ryanshepard to Education (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
LEGO WeDo robotics is not cheap but is awesome. My kids enjoyed it a lot.
posted by Orlop at 10:02 AM on September 9, 2019

Now I am at the computer and can say more. It has simple building projects and then is programmed from a computer or tablet. Kids are encouraged to begin to learn programming by varying certain parameters (like, say, speed or direction of movement) but motivated/interested kids can go farther.

I was very excited about robotics as a homeschooling mom, so we tried a bunch of stuff, and this is the one we were happiest with. Other kids often had either too steep a learning curve, or, like the one you bought, were not very durable.
posted by Orlop at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2019

We splurged on a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set for our son when he was 6. It was expensive but he was able to get going on his own and he has continued to regularly do projects with it ever since. He is now 11 and also uses Mindstorms as a member of a First LEGO League team.
posted by ElizaMain at 10:16 AM on September 9, 2019

Another vote for Lego Robotics kits; I've been teaching with them for 10 years now. I use WeDo with 6-9 year olds and Mindstorms EV3 with 10+. It's a great introduction to robotics, engineering and programming (visual, not text) with a tool they are already familiar with. Once they've learned the concepts with it I find it can be an easier step to more complex robotics kits and/or programming languages.
posted by atlantica at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2019

Also, note they don't sell WeDo or Mindstorms Education in Lego stores, only online through their Education site. There is a retail version of the EV3 kit, but I actually think the Education one is better for tinkering with once you've built the standard models.
posted by atlantica at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2019

I also love the LEGO ev3 kits they are great at allowing for creating multiple things. I also use an mbot robot with my kids and my students for tech class. It is a great DIY put together project that gives the user tools to assemble the robot.There are multiple apps for different ability ranges to program and interact with the robot. The mbot is also a fair bit less expensive
posted by dstopps at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2019

For a less costly alternative, my son really enjoyed building this kit. It's fairly robust, can be used without a computer or batteries and demonstrates hydraulic technology quite effectively. He took it out to his sandbox, to his friends' houses, etc.
posted by Poldo at 1:08 PM on September 9, 2019

My seven year-old is crazy about the Otto he built on his own. I think we got the Builder Kit +.

(and he keeps asking us to buy him a bunch more so he can have a robot army ... um, no? thanks? No Skynet for you, boy.)
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 4:07 PM on September 9, 2019

You might find some cool stuff at littlebits.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:14 AM on September 10, 2019

We had the Droid kit for little bits - it was fun but not super sturdy, need to buy a replacement part.

Looking at the rest of these as options.
posted by typecloud at 9:01 AM on September 11, 2019

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