Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom
Resources: Robotics & Robotics Kits
Hummingbird Robotics Kit – The Hummingbird Robotics Kit by Birdbrain Technologies is designed to enable engineering and robotics activities for ages 13 and up (8 with adult supervision). It is terrific for making robots, kinetic sculptures, and animatronics built out of a combination of kit parts and crafting materials. It is programmable in dozens of software environments including Scratch and Snap!
Bee-Bot, Blue-Bot, and Pro-Bot – Bee-Bot is a bee shaped programmable turtle for young children. The Blue-Bot adds Bluetooth and a free controller app. For slightly older children, Pro-Bot is a car-shaped floor turtle, complete with a pen for drawing geometric “trails” on paper.
Dash and Dot – Dash and Dot are robots that interact in fun and creative ways. Robust and attractive, they work with various apps and programming languages.
VEX – VEX Robotics makes robotics kits for schools, universities, and robotics teams and hosts robot competitions worldwide. Side by side, VEX and LEGO have a lot of similarities, but unfortunately they cannot be combined. VEX is favored in some serious secondary robotics competitions.
Ozobot – Ozobot is a line of robots controlled either by following color codes or programming. The color-following mode is more gimick than programming.
Makeblock – Makeblock offers a variety of programmable robot and drone kits that are easy to build and programmable using a block-based language.
Finch Robot – The Finch is a small tethered robot from Birdbrain Technologies that can be programmed in over a dozen languages. Originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University, it has onboard sensors, buzzer, and lights and is designed to be a tangible entry to computer science.
Cubelets – Modular robotics kits snap together with magnets.
GoGo Board – Low-cost, open source hardware platform for programmable projects using sensors and robotics. Programmed with an online block-based Logo called Tinker.
Big Trak – Our late friend, Steve Ocko, invented this programmable floor turtle (robot) for Milton Bradley in 1979. There has never been a more powerful easy-to-use robot available for kids since. The good news is that some lunatic bought the rights to the Big Trak and is manufacturing new ones 30+ years later. Kids from 5+ will play and learn with Big Trak for ages.