Engineering Robotics Kits Get Sparks Flying

Engineering Robotics Kits Get Sparks Flying

As kids expand their interest in robotics both in and out of the classroom, they’ll work on perfecting their skills as they pertain to the STEM fields—talents like designing, engineering, coding, and testing their robots to perform a specific series of functions. At a high school level, students may already know where those interests lie, and it’s just a matter of finding the robotics kits to develop those interests. For teachers and parents of young elementary and middle school students, it’s all about giving them the most panoramic view possible so they can choose later on what they're most interested in.

For engineering fanatics and wannabe’s, there is a slew of engineering robotics kits to choose from to practice the design and construction phase of building a robot. These kits vary in level of sophistication and function. Some closely mimic the robots were used to seeing in futuristic movies, while others start simple, to teach kids the basics of putting together pieces to create a whole.

Whether in the classroom or getting in extra hours after school, kids of all ages can change their perspective on STEM when they give engineering robotics kits a shot.

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Robots and Puzzles

Learning about robots doesn’t have to come from interacting with robots alone. In fact, there are hundreds of educational toys for kids that develop skills in robotics, even though they look nothing like the bots we see on television.

Especially for young kids developing fine motor skills as well as their critical thinking, 3D puzzles can do wonders for developing those kinds of skills most necessary in engineering robots. Kids work with large tiles which can be re-worked and re-positioned to create new configurations. Kids will build robots capable of anything from scribbling on paper to launching items across the room in a trebuchet-style mechanism.

Rather than relying on a tricky motor or battery-operated systems or on computer programming, this kit allows kids to focus on the building process just as a robotic engineer would.

Kids will use printed instructions and online tutorials to guide them through the process, although ultimately, students will have to use a trial and error process to build an effective robot.

Robots and Female Engineers

A male-dominated engineering field shouldn’t deter young girls from getting involved and shifting the demographic. While girls are up against social pressures that oftentimes dissuade them from STEM subjects, toy and bot manufacturers are working hard to even out the playing field amongst young girls and boys with cutting edge engineering robotics kits.

Versatile, stackable, buildable-from-scratch towers are among some of the educational toys that help teach girls the basic of engineering as it pertains to robots. Kits not only include rods and connectors pieces with corresponding holes; they also include pieces like pipe cleaners that let kids innovate when it comes to designing a functioning tower all their own. Girls will have the chance to work together to build a machine with a specific function—like transporting the pipe cleaners using a pulley system or pulling across blocks using a conveyor belt system.

While there’s much debate about whether or not it’s appropriate to disguise science kits for girls in bright pink and purple, an initiative to pull girls into STEM is definitely a step in the right direction/

Girls working in groups must learn to communicate, problem solve, welcome new ideas to the team. As young as 5 and 6, girls can develop skills that are essential later on for the robot-building process.

Robots and Wind Power

Why not get kids interested in more than one area of science at once? Kids will feel a total sense of accomplishment once they’ve completed building their own turbine. Not only will they perfect the building process, they’ll also be learning about the benefits of wind energy. It all comes to life as kids build a 3D model nearly their size.

Kids will get a chance to learn about real-life mechanics and the careful protocol they must follow so that all steps are executed in a specific order. Kits include the wind turbine, building pieces, and sometimes the rechargeable AA battery, while other kits do not include the battery.

Many of these kits include multiple models so that kids can also create an electric car, truck, or helicopter, for example.

Kits are available for around $50.

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Robots and the Imagination

Some engineering robotics kits that prepare kids for engineering leave construction up to kids’ personal creativity. With virtual limitless guidelines, kids will feel free to explore and dig into their new kit. Basic connector building kits can be used as simple machines or demonstrate models used in the classroom. Either way, kids are building skills that are not only useful in a science classroom, but in a variety of other class subjects as well.

For example, these building sets can be used in a biology classroom. What could be better than a 3D model of a DNA strand to explain for kids what’s too small for them to see? It’s a tool visual learners will surely benefit from.

Or students can build a solar system with these connects, that help students understand the relatives size of planets, moons, and each one’s orbit.

Or students can even build bridges in a physics classroom to understand exactly the pressure and weight each model can withstand. They’ll design prototypes in groups and test those models through trial and error. For older students, this is an opportunity to see exactly where their engineering skills might one day take them, as civil engineers, or in a variety of other disciplines.

Sometimes parents and teachers struggle to get the ball rolling when it comes to getting kids interested in robotics. Luckily, the variety of engineering robotics kits means there’s something for everyone—girls and boys of all ages—to turn them on to a career path in engineering and other areas of science as well.

Derek Capo