STEM & Learning Robots For Kids
We live in a world where children can navigate an iPad before they utter their first word. Kids can program a PVR before their parents can figure out which remote to use.
Children are growing up with a technological intuition that generations before them have lacked. Our future is being shaped by the constant evolution of innovation, and there is an increasing need for people who can not only build and use these tools, but also can see the applications for them. This understanding spans across an array of industries, and we must build upon a child’s natural inclinations and provide him/her with the tools to foster their future learning.
As we wait for schools to catch up with technology, there have been exciting advances in the world of educational toys. With help from games, apps, and even robots, children as young as three are being taught the basics of coding.
Using puzzle pieces—called TagTiles—KUBO ($169 US) teaches kids the principles of programming. This six inch tall robot drives over the RFID (radio frequency identification) embedded puzzle pieces to read commands. TagTiles can be used to spell out a word or give a series of directions for KUBO to travel. This puzzle-based robot is launching on INDIEGOGO and will be available for early-bird discounts.
From the makers of Robosapian and Roboraptor comes COJI, the coding robot. Using the universal language of emojis, COJI ($59 US) is designed to develop STEM and problem-solving skills. In addition to being used to program and play with the robot, the app comes with a variety of games that can be used on their own. You can also interact without the app by pressing the buttons on the side of the robot’s head, and by tilting or shaking the robot. Although COJI is developed for children ages 4-7, anyone who is fluent in emojis can get their LOLs from this bot.
For those looking for a tool that can truly inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, meet the Jade Robot ($210 US). I was introduced to the rover-like robot at the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show last November and could instantly see it was different from the competition. At first, the lack of a plastic case seemed like an oversight, but the exposed PCBs (printed circuit board) encourage kids to touch, experience, and ask questions about robotics. Creating commands or interacting with the help of sensors, this Canadian robot has been tested in thousands of classrooms and has shown great success with students. From grade 3 to college, the Jade Robot is designed to grow with the user and can be used to teach a variety of concepts for different skill levels.
While kids are kicking off their engineering degrees at an accelerated rate and the elderly generation are beginning to embrace robotic companions, I am still waiting for a robot that can handle a set of stairs and deliver a perfectly barbecued steak. We all have our dreams.