Charlie is 8 and has declared he wants to build robots he can climb inside. He has lamented you have to be 16+ to go to a junkyard, and has suggested the workaround of using FaceTime for him to be able to pick apart the pieces he needs to build his 7 metre high dream.
He loves taking apart old radios, teaching himself binary, and no matter what classes I find to put him in, it’s never enough. There are times when you need to lead your kids, then there are the times when you’re just trying to keep up.
As the gift season lands upon us, if you’ve got a coding loving, robot obsessed, STEM centric kid on your list, these are some of the things that will bring a smile to their face
GIFT IDEAS FOR STEM CENTRIC KIDS
I love the analog building that comes along with the coding fun of Nintendo LABO. We spent, literally, hours and days building the various projects in our box. Seeing the toys built from the ground up really gave them an insight into the mechanics of how things work along with the coding they program.
Available at the TELUS Store, this UnicornBot comes with everything needed to create a buildable, codable robot. Learn to use Blockly coding to program UnicornBot where you can control horn colors, create emotions, navigate obstacles and more.
LEGO is always a great analog toy to push the curiosity of creative kids. They’ve moved into coding for younger kids with BOOST to supplement the more sophisticated Mindstorms platform. The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox lets kids build a variety of different toys that can then be controlled and programmed via a companion app that uses a blog based coding scheme.
When your kid goes beyond just a desire to code, but a desire to build things from scratch (Hi 7m robot my son wants to build from scratch), a Starter Kit from Adafruit can be a great imagination spark. Adafruit says the kit is designed for “everyone, even people with little or no electronics and programming experience”. Though parental supervision is a must unless you’re buying for a teenager or mature older child. Computer access is also required for programming the Arduino.
There are a variety of buildable and programmable robots from Kamagami, the latest capitalizing on the Jurassic World popularity by throwing up some velociraptors that ‘come to life’ via the use of a simple, icon-based coding interface in the companion app. If you’ve got multiple coders on the list, more ‘danger’ could be add as the robots can react to one another ‘in the wild.’
Tech Will Save Us is an entire range of toys and kits to learn about programming and coding for kids of different ages. The kits mix old school craft supplies with new world coding skills to make things like a solar powered moisture sensor kit to alert when a potted plant needs water; electronic dough that brings plasticine and play-dough to life; and the creative coder kit, which pairs block-based coding with a wearable that lets kids see their code in action. So cool.
Monthly gift surprises are the best. My boys still look forward to getting the LEGO catalog / magazine that arrives each month, and gift subscription boxes are just as anticipated. Kiwi Crate’s Tinker series is for tweens and comes with a healthy dose of analog learning to go with a STEM curiosity. This is perfect for some parent/child hands-on time as you work on projects together.
CODING BOOKS FOR KIDS
Charlie will sit and thumb through a collection of Dummies books I have collected over the years, reading them like nobody I’ve ever seen. Here are some books that I’ve had my eye on, or that we have. They range from books to learn code, to practical implementation of coding, to just some fun science projects to work on together.
Python for Kids (Jason R. Briggs) | Coding Games in Scratch (Jon Woodcock) | Adventures in Minecraft (David Whale and Martin O’Hanlon) | Coding For Kids For Dummies (Camille McCue) | Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments (Mike Adamick)
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS?
I’ll be honest, Charlie is blazing a trail so far into the distance, I’m almost losing sight of his path. There are days where I feel like he’s in Grade 4 going on MIT Grad School. His imagination knows no limits, he loves doodling and building and dreaming.
This post is sponsored by TELUS