The Best Robot Toys Kids Learn By Using

If you have looked around my site you see that I’m very interested in getting our youth involved in the technology industry.  We have a growing problem in our country.  As more and more baby boomers retire and leave the technical workforce.  They are going to leave major gaps to be filled.

Image of child with Robot

So many of our young people are looking for the easy way to make money.  As most of us know you have to crawl before you can walk.  Unfortunately this message is being lost in today’s gotta have it now society. 

Teaching our children and young adults to pursue technology fields will prepare them for some of the highest paying jobs.  The more we prod and entice our kids to at least try different aspects of the various technological industries open to them. 

The more likely they will find a segment that they enjoy.  In this blog I’m going to talk about the robot industry.  I see this segment of technology growing by leaps and bounds.  The progression of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are propelling robots to new levels.

I’m going to be mainly talking about the fact the best robot toys kids will get the most out of.  Are ones that teach kids while they are using the robot toy.  

Cheap isn't the way to go.

Image of robot dogWhen looking at the cost for a good robot to spur your child’s intelligence don’t go cheap.  Toy robots that can be purchased for less than $100 dollars.  Is more of an entertainment toy than an educational toy.

I have to ask you how much did you pay for their computer or iPad.  I bet it was more than $100 dollars.  I have talked to some parents that think a toy robot picked up at their local department store is enough.  I have to disagree here.

For one the learning capability of those devices doesn’t exist.  Most of the time the robot is tethered (connected) between the remote control and the robot.  The robot is very limited in movement and in most cases can only move forward, backward, left, or right.

The robots we are talking about have a programming interface.  This interface allows for the user to actually attach their computer to it usually either by Bluetooth or USB.  Accessing the robot’s onboard processing system your child can actually write the code that commands the robot.

Yes your child can actually tell the robot how to move, handle obstacles, and even pick things up (if it is equipped to do so).  The really cool thing though.  While your child is programming the robot to do things they are actually learning employable skills.

Knowing how to program and robotics at the same time provides them a huge leg up later in life. 

STEM and its importance

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) should be exposed to every student going to school.  Many schools are investing in their STEM programs, but there are still many that aren’t.  Getting our youth in STEM exposes them to so many new technologies. 

STEM isn’t just for gifted kids as many movies like to portray.  Anyone that shows interest needs to be encouraged to explore.  The more they explore where STEM can fit into their interests.  The more likely they are to stick with where their interest lies when times get tough.

The technology industry isn’t easy.  It’s ever changing and re-inventing itself.  To survive and be successful in this exciting arena one must be willing to keep learning.  This is why it is so important that our schools help to ignite the fire for technology.

A robotics program is a perfect way for schools to start the fire.  Not to mention the competition that a good STEM program can foster.  When schools compete in robot competitions they allow local businesses to get involved and help kids and young adults build skills.

Another great benefit of getting local technology businesses involved in school STEM programs is sponsorship.  Many businesses will sponsor STEM programs that show promise for actually being able to build a solid workforce.

So many parents don’t realize the value of STEM in their local communities.  STEM is truly where our children can get their first impressions of the computer and technologies that exist to them.  Just a few years ago robots were a thing of Science Fiction.

Now we see them in hospitals and Airports doing the repetitive jobs that most people don’t want to do.  I don’t see robots as a threat, but more of the freedom for us to pursue higher skilled roles.  The only thing holding anyone back is education.  Today with the wealth of knowledge on the internet if you can afford to go to school.  It’s not an excuse anymore.  Do some Google or YouTube searches. 

Best programming languages for robots

The more I learn about what is available to program these educational robots.  I’m impressed with the building blocks the companies are putting together.  They really are trying to make the learning curve as easy as they possibly can.

The GANKER robot that I discussed in another post is a perfect example.  The newbie to programming a robot can actually start by dragging and dropping instructions.  These instruction blocks go together like a jigsaw puzzle. 

You can connect as many blocks of instructions together as needed to get the robot to perform the actions you want.  With the GANKER you can actually have the robot play soccer by setting up the correct instruction blocks, or you can do battle against another GANKER robot. 

After graduating from using Blocky to more traditional programming languages you can learn Python or Arduino with C++.  Both languages set one up for very lucrative jobs in programming.

The GANKER is a robot you can start with as a novice learning to code.  Not to mention all the fun you can have by playing games with it – fighting or soccer.  Then you can move up to the more advanced and a little pricier HEXA.  This robot is great for really learning the fine motor movements of robotics.

HEXA looks like a little crab.  You program how it is going to handle everything it does and the world it encounters.  Image of HEXAWith the HEXA you can use your mobile device to see what it sees as it traverses its environment.  This is so cool.

The HEXA uses a modified version of Linux (A Windows alternative Operating System.  Free and Open Source.)  Like the GANKER the HEXA allows you to access the robotic processing system via a Bluetooth or USB connection. 

The HEXA has a Software Development Kit (SDK) that your child or young adult can program in. The programming language that HEXA instructions are written in is GO by Google.  The community they are building provides excellent support to budding robot programmers.

How to get started?

To look into purchasing a robot that can be a true learning tool more than just a toy.  Take a look at my previous posts and see if one of those robots fits your needs.  As parents and educators we have a responsibility to provide our youth with the best opportunity to grow and prosper.

Learning how to program and use robots has to be one of the best.  I hope my post has helped to explain the importance of not just getting a robot toy, but an actual robot learning experience.  Investing in our youth has rewards and benefits that far outweigh any costs associated.

Please leave comments below.  I would love to hear how you feel about robots and drones.

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