Which robot is right for your child? One of the most interesting and prolific categories of STEM/STEAM and educational toys today is that of Smart Toys & Robotics. If you want to give your child an early learning advantage when it comes to key subject areas like Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, getting them a cool robot toy is one of the best choices you can make. Read on to learn all about the many fine educational robot toys now available at Best Buy and to get useful details that will help you to choose which one would be best as a gift for your child.
What are robot toys, and what can they do?
Robot toys at Best Buy come in many different varieties. There are humanoid robots, animal shaped robots, and robots that take the form of vehicles such as trains and rovers. There are even buildable robots that can assume many different forms, as well as robotic spheres that can roll all over the place via Bluetooth control. When it comes to toy robots, there’s really no shortage of creative designs, and what some of these bots can do is even more impressive!
Features of today’s toy robots include things like artificial intelligence (AI), app based control and interaction, STE(A)M based learning through concepts like coding and programming, the opportunity to build your own robot (in some, but not all, cases), and even companionship and storytelling, just to name a few. Different robots excel in different areas, and it’s left to you to choose which bot is best overall.
Weighing your robotic options
In the remainder of this blog, I’m going to go through several of the best and most popular robot toys currently available, outlining their form, their capabilities, and their many educational benefits. Just keep in mind that this is nowhere near a comprehensive list, and Best Buy has many other equally awesome options available.
The first robot I want to consider today is the WowWee CHiP Robotic Dog. Chip is the robotic version of your child’s first pet. Among his many features are the ability to fetch a ball, the ability to follow your child around, the ability to perform tricks, and the ability to obey voice commands with the help of a special smart phone app. Chip is also fast, highly affectionate, and as playful as any real life dog. If your child is too young to take on the responsibility of a real, live pet, Chip is a great alternative that will help to teach your child many useful lessons, including a little bit about what it’s like to take responsibility for having a pet.
Another robot toy, and one of my favourite items on today’s list, is the Botzees Coding & AR Robotics Kit. I have reviewed this one myself and can certainly vouch for it as a great example of a robotic toy—both in terms of its fun factor and its educational benefits.
As a build toy with 6 official modes that kids can put together (and endless unofficial ones), Botzees provides hours and hours of fun for kids of all ages, though 4 years and up is the recommended range. With the 130 piece Botzees kit, you can build a monkey that plays the drums, an alligator with a chomping mouth, a truck that drives around, a hyper dog with rider, an energetic seal (or possibly sea lion), and a wheeled humanoid robot. Motors and sensors allow for the inclusion of moving parts, and putting it all together encourages imaginative tactile play and tangible hands-on learning.
Another robot toy I have reviewed here on the blog is the Sphero Mini Robotic Ball. This tiny ball may not look like much, but it can actually do a great deal. Not only is it compatible with the Sphero Edu App to teach kids the basics of coding and programming, but it also has its own app that allows it to do many fun and useful things. For instance, you can use it as a controller for some video games the are built into its app, or you can use it as a bowling ball to knock over some tiny included bowling pins. There’s even a feature called Fave Drive technology whereby your child’s facial expressions act as commands for what it should do. And that isn’t even the half of it!
Another robotic toy with great educational potential is the Jimu Robot AstroBot Kit. I haven’t tested this one myself, so I’ll stop short of making any guarantees, but it sure sounds excellent! For instance, not only do you build the bot yourself (with multiple build options to choose from), but you also get to download and use a free app to interact with your new mechanical friend. You can make it roll around, have it detect and pick up objects, and it even helps kids to learn Blockly coding techniques, not to mention many other STEM concepts. For full details of what this kit can do, I suggest checking out its complete product page over at Best Buy.
Finally, the DJI RoboMaster S1 Educational Robot is probably the most advanced robot in today’s entire roundup. It’s also another bot that I have personally tested and reviewed, and boy was I ever impressed with it! The list of things that this wheeled drone can do goes on and on. For instance, you not only get to assemble all of the parts yourself—learning a great deal about mechanical engineering in the process, but once it’s built, you also get to control it via an app, make it play a form of laser tag with other bots of its kind, and it can even shoot its enemies with small water-based BBs. This complex robot is not meant for the littlest of kids. Its recommend age range is 14 and up, and, honestly, I have barely scratched the surface of what all it can do.
As you can see, today’s toy robots are not what they used to be. Things have come a long way over the years, and now there’s something for every taste and interest. Of course, there are many other examples at Best Buy that may also interest you or your child—I couldn’t cover everything. For those discussed here that I have previously reviewed, however, I would highly suggest reading the specific review for any toy you may be seriously interested in getting. I usually go into quite a bit more detail than I can put in a roundup article like this. Whichever bot you ultimately choose, I hope that big fun is in your child’s future! Happy Holidays!