Children of all ages love robots—and so should savvy parents like you. They’re cool (which is hard to come by), they’re fun to build and play with, and they teach kids valuable lessons in engineering, computer programming, and math. Whether your little ones are in school in-person or attending classes virtually from home, you can help them pick up new hands-on STEM skills  with robotics kits and classes (plus, they’re entertaining)!

Read on for more information about the educational benefits of robotics, how to get your children started with robots, and the best robotics kits and classes.

How does robotics encourage STEM learning?

By now, you know that great STEM education is important in the 21st century—which explains the increased popularity of robotics in classrooms. The process of designing, building, coding, and testing robots teaches kids all kinds of science, technology, engineering, and math concepts.

And believe it or not, that’s not all children can learn from robots! Robotics requires hands-on problem solving and creativity, and it’s usually a group effort, which also strengthens teamwork and communication skills.

You might think that only older kids are equipped to build robots, but studies of school robotics programs have found that even children in pre-K can master basic robotics and programming skills. It’s never too early to get your child excited about robots—the only question is how to do it.

How do kids get into robotics?

Don’t worry—you don’t have to help your child create a robot from scratch to get them into robotics (unless you’re reading this Elon..then it’s expected). There are fun robotics kits for kids of all ages that come complete with materials, instructions, and a programming platform or app.

These components vary in complexity from kit to kit. Some kits contain hundreds of pieces for you to mix and match, while others come with a premade robot. Some include a full programming language, while others stick to simple commands.

Be ready to help out if your child gets stuck on certain steps of the building or programming process. Kids can also find guidance and like-minded peers in robotics clubs, which are often offered in middle schools and high schools, and robotics classes (more on that later).

What are the best robots for kids?

So you and your child are excited and ready to build your first robot. That’s great! Now you just have to decide which robotics kit to start with.

The best robotics kits challenge children to build a robot and program it to do things like move, talk, and play games, while leaving plenty of room for open-ended creativity. They include thorough instructions to guide kids through their first few builds, then provide them the opportunity to customize and expand on their creations. And, of course, the best kits are fun.

With that in mind, here are three of the best robots for kids:

Lego Boost ($160)

Everybody knows how to put Legos together, which makes the Lego Boost kit one of the most approachable and fun ways to get started with robotics. Because it’s based on Legos, this kit also offers endless possibilities for customization and expansion. The programming app is easy to use as well.

Makeblock mBot ($70)

At roughly half the price of the Lego Boost kit, the Makeblock mBot is a great moderately priced option for beginners. The small, robust robot only takes 15 minutes to assemble. You can buy add-ons for the mBot, but one drawback of this kit is that it doesn’t come with many customization options out of the box.

Insectbot Hexa ($37.50)

At about half the price again of the Makeblock mBot, the Insectbot Hexa could be right for you if you want to check your child’s interest in robotics before committing to something larger. It’s less capable than the Boost kit or the mBot, but it’s fun and easy to build and program. Plus, it’s based on the popular Arduino open-source computer platform, offering unique opportunities for customization and expansion.

For more recommendations, check out these roundups from Wirecutter, Tom’s Guide, and Make.

What is a robotics class?

If your child can’t get enough of robotics, they might love a robotics class. In these classes, kids work together with the help of a teacher to design, plan, build, and test robots. They also dive deeper into the principles of computer programming, science, and math underpinning their inventions.

Robotics classes can be taken online with a kit at home. Here at Sawyer, we can help you find the right class for your child. Check out our top robotics classes here, and reach out to us anytime here. We welcome our new robot overlords!

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