Once children start getting older and hitting the tween years, it can be harder to find the right toys and games to keep them engaged. We were sent the Robomaker set from Clementoni which is recommended for age 10+ and it is a brilliant project to keep older kids busy and entertained, and even learning at the same time!
The Robomaker is an educational robotics laboratory that gives kids a chance to experiment with coding and is approved by the Science Museum. When using the Robomaker, there are two stages – the building, and then playing and coding with your finished robot.
The build stages are fairly complex, with over 200 stages for the simplest robot. This does take time and patience, but it is a great accomplishment once it’s all built. We allowed one full afternoon for our first build, with a few breaks in between.
To build the robots, you can use the app to show you step by step instructions on the screen. We switched between using iPad and phones for this, and it worked well either way.
There are five different versions of the robot that you can make, each getting progressively more complex. They each work with different components and features. We started with the most basic robot, the X1 Explorer, which has a motor to move and can change directions, change speeds and add sound effects.
It looks really cool, and the sound effects and movement are pretty impressive. Once built, the robot is sturdy and you don’t need to worry about bits coming off when it moves – it’s very stable.
Now that he has accomplished the first robot and is confident in making and coding it, the other robots that Z will be moving on to later are..
- X2-Spider which can simulate the behaviour of prey or predator
- X3-Sumobot which can carry out line-following activities
- X4-Guardian which can sweep an area looking for intruders.
- X5-Droid which can pick up objects and arrange them according to colour!
The final robot, the X5 Droid uses infra-red sensors allowing the robots to identify objects around them and touch sensors which recognises when the robot has picked them up.
We can’t wait to try these out, and it’s great to have so much variety within the kit to keep Z’s attention and challenge him for longer after completing the first robot.
To programme your robot after building, you once again need to use the app. We used this on an iPad. The app uses a system of coding with blocks, with children may be familiar with via school. (Popular programmes like Scratch which our kids use in school also use a coding blocks system)
This is easier than writing code directly, but the app still offers a decent level of complexity for children to play around with, and to get really comfortable with putting in the various commands into a plan and then getting their robots to execute it.
You get a handbook along with the set which explains some of the coding too, and guides you on what the different coding commands are for each block. I do not claim to be very well trained in coding myself, but the boys dad works in Artificial Intelligence so does write a lot of code. He has always been emphasising to the children that it is important to learn coding, and he was impressed with the Robomaker and all of the possibilities it offers. It is a great project for Z to work together with his dad and enjoy spending their time together with the robot too.
Along with the Robomaker, Clementoni also have other STEM products available for kids like this Mechanics Laboratory that allows you to make racing cars, or the Clementoni mind designer which is for slightly younger children.
All of these toys are available from Smyths toys, with the Robomaker available for 69.99