Coding toys are all the rage these days. From cheap to pricey, from simple to complex, from electronic to Montessori tools – there are so many of them to choose from. If you’ve ever considered buying such a tool for your kid, here’s our case for why you should make it a coding robot, and why a coding robot is a good investment into your child’s future.
The future belongs to coding robots (and robots in general). Now, this notion might make you slightly uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t. When we say the future belongs to robots (or coding robots), we don’t mean super-sophisticated humanoid AI devices taking over our planet and turning us into their puppets. No, we mean what we can already see happening around us – intelligent tools with capacity to perform our daily mundane activities for us taking the lead, taking the load off our shoulders and making life easier as a result.
It’s the coffee machine that makes your favorite cup of coffee just as you like it, with the perfect amount of frothed milk and intensity of coffee – instead of you grinding the beans and cooking your coffee and milk on your own. It’s your real-time GPS letting you know which route to take and which to avoid, updating its information with the latest satellite data and data from other users – instead of you fussing with a paper map in your lap as you drive. It’s your kitchen robot beating the cream and egg yolks in minutes – instead of you giving yourself a muscle ache. It’s a smart watch keeping up with your fitness and reminding you to live healthy – instead of you doing all the counting and keeping up.
All of these things have happened, and they have all happened thanks to intelligent robotic tools programmed in a way that makes our lives more convenient and less of a hassle. So, yes, coding robots are not only the future, they are already our present.
With time, our use of such robots will only increase. As it does, so will the demand for skilled people who will assemble, program, repair, modernize these robots – creating a whole new job market for engineers, designers, coders, psychologists, and developers. The single handedly most useful skill in this new job arena will be, you guessed it, coding. Coding will not only allow the smooth functionality of the robotic tool (by coding the robot), but also a more profound understanding of how such a tool works and all that can be done with it. As such, being able to code will be a wonderful complimentary skill to others, such as UX (user experience) design, customer service, product design, and many more.
Take a look at one of our older blog posts to discover all the areas in which coding robots will be (and, to an extent, already are) playing prime roles.
Far from being the only 21-century skill of use, of course, coding is the foundation of the STEM skills your children will come to appreciate on the job market of tomorrow. The other skills include: digital and tech literacy, critical thinking, soft skills (cooperation, collaboration, management) and a lack of prejudiced thinking. To learn more about them in depth, here is a blog post dedicated to the topic. But the good news is, a good STEM education can teach all of this easily. And good education can start in your home, with a simple coding robot. All in all, that’s a good motivation to get started!
So what makes a coding robot a good coding robot? And why is it such a good tool to teach kids coding?
There’s several reasons. But before we get there, we’ll start by defining what a coding robot for kids is. A coding robotic toy is a tool that encompasses complex technology, is programmed or programmable to perform certain functions, and responds to certain stimuli (i.e. you press a button – it makes a noise). Robotic toys range from simple (as the one just described, responding in real time) to very complex (a real-life-looking construction with dozens of components that can be programmed in advance to perform complicated and multiple tasks).
As such, it is not a program or an ambiguous tech tool, but a device that usually carries a certain shape, face, even a character that has a name. It can thus become a child’s friend, similar to the way a plush toy or a pet does.
Learning through play is generally a great way to learn for young kids. Play-based learning mimics the way kids see and experience the world – by experimenting, touching and feeling everything new, weighing it in their hands and probing around, until eventually they find ways to use it (or sometimes, break it), and use it they will. Learning, for small kids, is not dry memorization of facts, but a hands-on experiential approach filled with the trial-and-error process and a natural motivation to not give up even when things don’t work at the first attempt.
That brings us to another type of learning that is increasingly being adopted in the classrooms – problem-based learning. Although it may at first sound somewhat negative, what is meant by the term is learning based on a repetitive cycle of looking for practical solutions to real-life problems. Children love finding out how things work, love taking objects apart, exploring their functionality, and finding new ways to apply it.
A robotic tool is perfect for such use – not only does it usually come with its own in-built problem-solving tasks, but it’s also typically an object to be assembled, taken apart and reassembled according to the current task at hand. As such, robotic tools and coding robots can be used in a thousand different ways, making them something that will hold your kid’s attention for long, while also serving as a good time-investment.
A good coding robot also teaches children to be confident and innovative. By seeing that they are repeatedly able to solve unfamiliar tasks and problems, children naturally develop a sense of confidence in their own abilities. Such confidence is not unfounded, but based in real experience, which is what makes it so valuable. Confidence in one’s skills and knowledge is one of the best attributes we can adopt, and not just in terms of learning and studying, but also when looking for a good job in the future. Hence, a coding robot truly can be a long-term investment.
Furthermore, creativity, which one also adopts when playing with coding robots, comes hand-in-hand with self-trust and self-confidence. Creativity is easily trained through coming to terms with solving unfamiliar tasks, tinkering and applying one’s ideas to practice. Speaking of it, did you know creativity is a skill that can be learned, and not a fixed predisposition? Read more about it in one of our more recent posts – here.
The by far best part about coding robots is that they are for everyone. Not just boys, but girls too, not only for kids of a certain age group, but for all curious young minds and for kids with special needs as well (and even for their parents, if they like). Robotics education is inclusive, breaks down barriers of prejudice and captures kids’ heart by how fun it can be.
Robo Wunderkind is a good example of such a coding robot. Our modular coding robot composed of color-coded blocks and compatible with LEGO blocks can be built to perform various functions (movement, sound, light, all of them at the same time) and built in a way that resembled characters, animals, tools, or simple objects. With Robo Wunderkind, you can build anything, ranging from a functional alarm clock to a rabbit, to a kitchen a timer. Practicality is compatible with high functionality, one that grows together with the cognitive demands of a child. Plus, our free apps allow children to get familiar with robotics and programming at different levels – ranging from icon-based drag-and-drop interfaces all the way to our Scratch-based programming app that teaches complex coding concepts, such as variables, functions and operators.
Robo Wunderkind is also used in many great educational initiatives worldwide that make coding exciting for kids of different ages and backgrounds. We partnered with girls’ after school clubs to promote girls’ inclusion in STEM, as well as an animal’s right charity to send a message that animal rights matter, and that even robots can help preserve these. Our tools are being used in thousands of homes worldwide, and never cease to offer the most important ingredient of any learning experience – fun.
If you’ve become intrigued by the idea of getting a coding robot for your child (or even for yourself), consider starting with Robo Wunderkind. Take a look at our website and our social media to follow our challenges, webinars and themed projects coming out every week.