Robotics is a matter that gives many panic. They think of the big factories, of those metal monsters capable of performing dozens of perfectly synchronized operations in minute and in the most detail, or in the autonomous ‘robotized’ vehicles. Nothing further from reality, robotics is within reach of anyone and you just have to know where to look, what products to buy and how to have fun.
To take a first step in robotics we do not have to go very far nor spend much money. There are starter kits that are perfect for introduction into this world, both privately and in the classroom. Which are? Read on to find out!
Makeblock, la robótica ‘open-source’
Made with Arduino, the Makeblock platform is born to make robotics a tremendously simple material. It follows the open-source philosophy and one of its great values is the potential of the community and the quantity of elements available, as well as its price with economic dyes. As positive notes its compatibility with languages well known and widely used as Scratch, among many others.
In the official website we find the complete content to start with Makeblock, including all kinds of guides and step-by-step tutorials to make the first projects. In your online store are the necessary materials and kits (including mBot, an educational kit for $ 75) as well as all kinds of accessories and peripherals related to the platform. Everything else, to a Google hit.
LEGO WeDo, un clásico entre los clásicos
Although it may not seem like it, LEGO has spent many years in this robotics and indeed they were pioneers with Mindstorms that everyone knows. However, for a lower and younger level, LEGO WeDo is the first stone in the world of robotics by the Nordic company.
In the official website is all the information, and if you want to get one with you the best thing is that you go to your nearest distributor.
Designed for ages 7 and up and with a lot of material thought to include WeDo in the classroom, a pair of kits with motor, distance sensor and tilt sensor are made up. Using them simultaneously opens the door to dozens of Projects. A Ferris wheel, a crocodile or even vehicles can be easily created with the help of the basic kit and a handful of standard LEGO pieces. Once you master the platform opens up a world of possibilities that, although it is certain is more limited than the one of other products, is of the few productive ones in early ages.
bq Zum Kit
bq was born in Spain as a company that designed electronic books, made them in China and then brought them back to sell them in our country. After the e-books they tested with tablets and Android smartphones, and for some time they are trying in the world of the education. Among other projects, bq Zum Kit is the platform chosen to be the center of its robotics, within the ecosystem of 3D printers and programming language that in this time have devised.
With bq Zum we can create our own robots similar to the PrintBot, thanks to the own plate (but based on Arduino), Bitbloq language and the elements included (multiple sensors, wheels, screws, etc.), all designed and prepared to follow the instructions and finish with the small robot running. The good thing is that the step-by-step guide will not get us lost in the process; the bad thing, which is precisely a tremendously closed kit that except for a couple of cosmetic details does not bring any creativity.
littleBits, la electrónica hecha fácil y bonita
LittleBits is closer to being an introduction to electronics, but of course it has in robotics a good deal of interest. A platform composed of dozens of elements that are joined by magnets, and in which to build a project requires nothing more than our hands, a computer and a good dose of ideas.
LittleBits is not only nice, also very useful and quick to launch. Again, as in Makeblocks, we find a huge support of the community that proposes hundreds of projects perfectly explained in the web both in the guide with the steps to realize as in the necessary elements. For example this alarm that activates in the light of the sun can give us an idea of how easy it is to start a project. Regarding the price it is best to have a look at the official store where kits of the most varied, with options starting at $ 99 for the most basic to 4,999 of the most complete kit intended to be implemented in the classroom.
LEGO Mindstorms EV3, lo último de la saga más conocida
We said before that LEGO takes many years in this of robotics and education. Specifically, since 1998 when they launched RCX, the precursor of what would later be called Mindstorms. Its latest release dates from 2013 and is called LEGO Mindstorms EV3, more complete, powerful and with many more possibilities than its predecessors.
Intended for ages and something mature, typically from the age of 10, Mindstorms EV3 allows you to create very attractive robots with very ‘futuristic’ appearances, which they always like. For this we must follow the respective step-by-step guides and typical LEGO, and that include from its own programming language to compatibility with other systems. Mindstorms is for many the first step in the most serious robotics, not forgetting all the work of the First LEGO League that are celebrated all over the world, including Spain, and attended by thousands of people interested. Everything else on the official website, and the EV3 main kit that comes out for about 400 euros.
Beebot, la abejita perfecta para los más pequeños
It is unusual, but you can also teach robotics to the little ones of the cole. In this case we talk about Bee-Bot, a bee-shaped robot and very simple that allows to introduce children’s education in the world of robotics, programming and computational thinking.
Instead of computers or tablets, we will have everything in the same robot: a few buttons that the kids will have to click on a certain order. The ‘magic’ is on carpets, accessories on which Bee-Bot will move and will force the children to go on missions with certain objectives. There are of all kinds and even here we have talked about some experiences that use Bee-Bot. Its price is approximately 80 euros, with other models with new capacities for higher prices. All the information is on the official website, where they give us resources and ideas for use in the classroom.
Ozobot Bit, pequeño y colorido
Imagine a robot that fits in the palm of your hand. Science fiction? Not much less. Ozobot Bit has a height of only 2.5 centimeters and the ability not only to move, also to detect lines or even write.
We could say that it is a simple version of a more traditional robot, with limited movements and capacities … but enough for many. It is perfect for following lines and has accessories with which we can program it to paint the shapes and figures that we want; it is also compatible with various programming languages and platforms, so you can use it with your laptop or tablet, and also with a language of blocks type Scratch. Its price is about 70 euros, there are several models whose details and functionalities (different for each of them) can be found on the Ozobot website.
Aisoy1, para la inteligencia emocional
But the world of robotics can also touch, and with excellent results, everything related to Emotional Intelligence, an upward field in recent years in the world of education. Aisoy1 has this objective, and for this can respond to the user before touches, caresses, gestures or words.
It is programmable both in movements and above all in all these responses, either by moving some parts of the face or emitting sounds. Although they use their own language they also have block language or high-level text languages designed for students of more advanced ages. There are versions with and without wheels for about 330 euros the most basic of them, all ‘Made in Spain’.
Pleo, el ‘dino’ con sentimientos
Pleo is a robot-dinosaur, and thought to accompany young children – Infant and, especially, first cycle of Primary – in experimentation and learning. It is not oriented as much to the programming as others, but to the response and to the interaction so that the user learns to take care of it.
It is completely autonomous and we only need to load it from time to time to get the most out of it. It includes a series of accessories to interact with him, such as food, branches or other objects, and has his own catalog of feelings to feel tired or hungry, among others. There are several models between 260 and 500 euros, with different characteristics, possibilities and colors, but all with a common nexus: the form and the especially interesting personality and responsiveness.
Jibo, una inteligencia que aprende
Still in development, but about to jump to market, Jibo wants to start a new generation of robots for educational purposes: a robot that can react to the movements, words and acts of the user, the child who uses it. It uses a series of advanced learning techniques that allow you to learn with each new interaction, so that the more we use it, the more personality it will have.
In this way, each Jibo will be different and will have a different behavior. The objective is that, within the educational field, it can interact with students in a unique way and adapted to it, which opens the door to use it in special needs environments; also has the possibility that anyone can program it to add new features. It is, undoubtedly, one of the great products that are to come, and that – unsurprisingly – will begin to be sold in the coming months. We recommend you visit the official website of the project to know all its details.