Best Robotic Kits Buying Guide

Best Robotic Kits Buying Guide

When children build their own robots, they learn a wide range of physical, mental, and social skills that can be applied in their daily lives and education. These skills include but aren’t limited to fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, troubleshooting, decision-making, and social communication and cooperation. Indeed, robotics is now becoming a welcome addition to STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering and math) education at the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels!

Fortunately, parents can strengthen their children’s STEM education at home, with or without a robotics curriculum in their schools. With the following robot kits for kids, you and your kids can learn robotics together and, thus, spend quality time.

Buying Guide

Robots, including robot kits, come in a wide variety of complexity and functionality as well as shapes, sizes, and colors. Many come in traditional designs, while many more have sci-fi styles that appeal to children, teens and adults. With so many options, making the right choice can be an overwhelming task. But, with our buying guide, you can narrow down your choices.

Consider the users’ age category

Manufacturers of robot kits usually provide consumers with information about suitable ages for their products – look for terms like “Suitable for” and “For children ages” for this purpose.  Be sure to follow these general guidelines since small parts can become choking hazards for small children, and programming requirements can become complicated. For kids, the best choices are robots that teach the basics of programming and coding.

Some also come with features like voice and gesture controls and basic to intermediate mechatronics. Ideally, these should be ready for play out of the box or require minimal assembly. For tweens and teens, the best robot kits are those with more complicated assembly and operation instructions to challenge their knowledge and skills.

These also have expandability and compatibility features that allow their users to become more creative in their functions. Many manufacturers also provide information about their products’ recommended skills level, namely: beginner, intermediate and advanced. This makes sense, too, because the robotics-related knowledge and skills of each user will largely depend on their exposure to robots, including their design principles and practices.

Today, even high school students can have intermediate robotics skills due to their educational and practical exposure, such as in competitions and shows.

Power source

Robot toys can be powered by USB cables, batteries, solar panels, and power adapter plugs. Children are more likely to appreciate robots with rechargeable batteries since there’s no waiting time, provided there are spare batteries on hand.

Types of movements

Children love robots that can be controlled to perform a wide range of movements, such as articulating limbs, rolling wheels, and racing around. Children also enjoy the flashing lights and engaging sounds. The robotic movements can either be controlled via remote control or compatible mobile devices such as tablets connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Be sure to check the price, too. You want to get the best value for your money – reasonable prices with plenty of features coupled with durability, functionality and even beauty.

Five Best Robotic Kits

Based on our personal experiences (i.e., testing) and consumer reviews, here are the top five robot kits suitable for kids. Keep in mind that each one has its pros and cons in terms of their suitability for certain age groups, as well as their power sources, expandability, and functionality. Your best choice is always the one that best addresses your children’s needs in a robot kit.

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

The Dash Robot is marketed as an all-in-one educational toy robot for kids. It lives up to its own hype, if its multiple awards including the 2015 National Parenting Gold are considered. The Dash Robot is suitable for children six years old and older, although younger children can also appreciate its features.

Features

This is an attractive robot that comes with several features and functions that appeal to kids and kids at heart. Parents don’t have to worry about kids becoming frustrated with the robot-building process because the Dash Robot comes pre-assembled. You will also like that it doesn’t need batteries although its rechargeable batteries have to be regularly charged via a USB cable.

  • Compatible with a wide range of Apple and Android devices. You can install the program necessary for controlling the robot’s movements on your iPad, iPhone or Kindle Fire, which should have Bluetooth Smart 4/LE capacity.
  • Powerful processor coupled with several sensors makes it highly responsive to commands from the controller. The sensitive sensors pick up signals from objects in its path and pinpoint locations, among others. The robot “learns” as it goes along so it becomes more responsive and intuitive.
  • Connectivity feature with Lego bricks. The robot comes with two building brick connectors that allow for expanded design using compatible Lego Technic bricks. Your kids can then make various shapes using their available Lego bricks.
  • Comes with several modes. The built-in applications include “Go” for basic robot movements that kids love; “Path” for more complicated movements like moving on a racetrack; and “Blockly” for basic coding learning opportunities for beginners. In fact, Blockly comes highly recommended by code.org because of its right balance between ease of learning and challenge in advancing one’s coding skills.

Pros

  • Durable materials and construction
  • Highly responsive
  • Wide range of movements, as well as puzzles and projects for kids to enjoy
  • Learning opportunities for coding

Cons

  • Some games are overly simple. These are suitable for pre-schoolers instead of elementary school-age children

Summary

The Dash Robot is a good choice for beginners who are fascinated by the movements of toy robots yet cannot handle the complexity of coding and programming. As your child increases his knowledge and skills in robotics, he can still use the toy robot for his experiments, therefore you will get a better value for your money. The transition from entertainment to education is enjoyable to see, too.

Lego Mindstorms EV3 31313 Robot Kit for Kids

The Lego Mindstorms series is present in most lists of the best robot kits, and for good reasons. The EV3 31313 kit appeals to kids and kids at heart because of the exciting opportunities it presents to learn and enjoy robotics at home, in the office, and in school.  This is an expandable kit, a Lego tradition that we also appreciated since robotics is about letting your creativity fly.

Features

The EV3 kit has several features to be excited about, from the fact that it requires assembly of its 550+ Technic elements to the connectivity opportunities that its users can explore. Your older kids will more likely enjoy every step in the creation of the robots, while your younger kids will just love to operate them.

  • The Intelligent EV3 Brick contains the assembled robot’s powerful ARM9 processor and four motor ports, the USB port for Wi-Fi connectivity, and the micro-SD card reader. From this Brick, your children can program and operate the robots using their Android an iOS-powered device as controllers.
  • The instruction booklet contains clear and concise step-by-step instructions on assembling and operating the robot. You have to download the 603MB operating software to your device before starting the programming. Your child can also program the robot and, thus, learn more about robotics from hands-on experience than only from reading books.
  • The set comes with more than 550 building blocks which can build five different robots styles, namely: EV3 Storm, Track3R, Gripper, R3Ptar, and Spik3R.

Pros

  • Complete set including the Intelligent Brick and building bricks, remote control, sensors, and instruction booklet
  • Can be assembled into several different robots
  • Enjoyable and educational
  • Expandable features thanks to the Lego design

Cons

  • Potential choking hazard so unsuitable for children three years old and below
  • Parts can be lost without an organizer box

Summary

The Lego Mindstorms EV3 is among the best investments in robot kits for kids and adults, thanks to its versatile configurations, expandable options, and enjoyable play. But there’s a learning curve involved, too, especially in installing the app. But, once it’s installed the rest is easy! You and your kids will have hours of fun changing the robot’s configuration, such as from the EV3 Storm to the Gripper, and exploring each robot’s capabilities from climbing to crawling to lifting heavy things.

Makeblock mBot Kit

The mBot kit has several excellent qualities that make it a must-have addition to STEM education in schools and homes. Parents will find that it introduces the concepts of robotics to younger kids without overwhelming them about the complexities of coding. Also, it appeals to older kids who want to learn more about coding. Overall, a win-win toy.

Features

The mBot kit is a complete package because it comes with all the necessary parts for building a functional robot at home, perhaps even for a school project.

  • The kit contains 38 assembly parts. So, it’s easier and faster to assemble into a robot than, say, the Lego EV3 with its 550+ parts. Your kids will also find it easier to assemble because of the color-coded RJ25 ports, which fit in only one way, so getting mistakes during assembly is minimized if not eliminated. Just be sure to read the instructions first, at least once, to ensure proper assembly.

There are also tools (e.g., screwdrivers) included in the package, so assembly can be simple as the kit is opened. Then, the batteries can be placed into the slots and the robots can be immediately operated.

  • The robot already has pre-assembled configurations including line tracking and obstacle avoidance. But, there are also several challenges, games and puzzles that younger children will enjoy.
  • The kit comes with graphical programming software based on the Scratch 2.0 program. The robot is programmed using a drag-and-drop software that even first-timers will have fun using. You can provide assistance during the first few steps, but you are likely to find that your kids will not need it for later programming tasks.
  • The robot can be controlled from compatible iOS and Android-powered devices, such as Apple’s devices, allowing for more control over when and where your younger kids can play with the robot since they probably don’t have their own devices yet.
  • The kit can be expanded by adding Lego building bricks to the basic configurations. You can also buy add-on packs, which are sold separately, such as the mBot Servo Pack.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and expand with add-ons
  • Suitable for use by kids and teens with beginner level skills
  • Drag-and-drop software any kid will understand
  • Useful in STEM education

Cons

  • Components feel flimsy, according to a few buyers

Summary

The mBot kit has a simpler design than the Lego EV3 but therein also lies its suitability for beginners, especially for smaller kids starting their STEM journey.

Elegoo UNO Project Upgraded Smart Robot Car Kit with UNO R3

The Elegoo UNO Smart Robot Car Kit is among the best kits for kids mainly because it provides hours of fun and enjoyment for kids of all ages. But, parents love it for another reason, too – because it’s part of the Arduino programming series that teaches kids about robotics. With both education and entertainment at its core, the kit makes it to our list of the best robot kits for children.

Features

The practical features of the Uno kit include:

  • The kit comes with all the parts and tools necessary for assembly and operation, even suitable for kids who have little hands-on experience with DIY robot kits.
  • The robot has five programming modes: auto-go, infrared, Bluetooth, obstacle avoidance, and line tracking – with each mode providing kids with unique capabilities. Your kids will have fun learning about each mode and then experimenting with the features, which are powered by the Arduino Uno processor, among the best in kid-friendly robot kits.
  • The kit has clear step-by-step instructions in assembling the parts and installing the software. Even younger kids will have a relatively easy time assembling the robot since the parts are designed to fit in specific ways with each other. The robot can also be expanded to include other functions, such as a camera for transmitting photos and videos via a Wi-Fi connection, robotic arms for lifting, and weather sensors.

The elegant design of the robot appeals to adults, too, especially the ones who like to keep collectibles.

Pros

  • Sturdy parts
  • Easy to assemble with the parts, tools and instructions included in the package
  • Expandable options by purchasing add-ons
  • Provides kids of all ages with hours of fun

Cons

  • Arduino programming may be unsuitable for younger kids, so parental assistance is a must
  • Defective battery housing in a few cases

Summary

The Elegoo Smart Robot Car is a great buy for you and your kids! You will likely find that it can be a basic robotic kit for beginners as well as a more advanced kit for your older children, such as teens. You can guide them in adding more sensors, for example, so that it becomes a multipurpose robot.

Packgout Remote Control Building Kits for Kids

The Packgout remote control robot kit is a great addition to your children’s growing collection of DIY robot kits. You will find that it’s a relatively frustration-free kit with easy-to-assemble quality, as is the case for all of the kits on this list.

Features

The Packgout kit is a popular one for the following reasons:

  • The parts are all made from safe, strong and sturdy plastic materials. So, even abuse from smaller kids will not break them easily. Parents obviously like such quality because durable plastic toys mean longer playing times.
  • The kit contains 127 parts including the individual blocks for making different vehicles like a truck, a crane, and a motorcycle. These are small parts that can become choking hazards, so be sure to supervise toddlers when they’re assembling the robot – or better yet, let them enjoy the assembled robot but don’t let them participate in its assembly. There’s an instruction booklet for the step-by-step instructions.

Once assembled, the robot toy can be controlled via a dedicated remote control with an intuitive design. You may or may not provide guidance during the kids’ first use of the remote control depending on their savviness with similar devices. You will find that there’s little learning curve in controlling the robot and in using the remote, too.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and troubleshoot
  • Suitable for beginners and young kids
  • Three different vehicle types
  • Sturdy materials and construction, once assembled

Cons

  • Choking hazard
  • No add-ons

Summary

The Packgout robot kit is a great choice for children with beginner level skills in robotics. The 127-part kit is quicker and easier to assemble than many kits with hundreds of parts in them. The three different vehicles it can make means it has high entertainment value, too.

Final Verdict

Build-your-own robot kits for children are among the best toys that parents can give their children because of the wide range of benefits that come from building and using them. These benefits include learning about science, technology, engineering, and math in ways that they can understand. These kits develop kids’ critical thinking skills crucial in problem-solving situations, and enhance their social skills by letting them participate in activities with peers.

But, be sure to choose the suitable robot-building kits for your kids according to their age category and skill levels.  Your kids will benefit most from these robots because of the balance between providing them with learning opportunities and encouraging them to play with the assembled robots. You will find that these robots are also great tools for quality time with your family because everybody becomes involved in their assembly and operation, even in providing ideas about new configurations.