19 Oct Want Your Kids To Learn Code? Botley The Coding Robot Turns Programming Into A Game
Want your kids to learn how to code? According to a recent Gallup study, you’re not alone. The organization found that nine in 10 parents want their kids to study computer science, despite only one in four schools actually offering such opportunities. As a result, a lot of parents (myself included), find themselves searching for tools they can use at home to teach their children computer programming skills without turning their weekends into another school day.
If you’re looking for coding tools but have no idea where to start, Botley the Coding robot may be just what you need. The tool is simple, but engaging, and is a great way for both you and your children to develop the thinking needed to become a programmer. Full disclosure, I did receive a sample Botley model to test for free from Learning Resources and spent the weekend using it with my own children (ages 7 and 11) to see how kids at different developmental levels responded. This review will cover the toy’s basic operations as well as commentary on age appropriateness.
What is Botley?
So, basically, Botley is a small square plastic robot on wheels that comes with a set of removable arms that can be used to complete different tasks. Four lights on the top correspond with different commands you can give the robot. He also comes equipped with a nine-button remote control. When you turn Botley on to his coding mode, you can use the remote to program and then transmit commands to him. Programming Botley is simple. On the remote there are four large buttons that represent commands such as move forward, backward, right or left. You child needs only program in the steps he wants Botley to take and then tap the transmit button to send the code to Botley. Once Botley’s got the code, he’ll make a little noise and begin executing the instructions.
Why Botley Is A Great Introduction To Coding
While Botley might initially sound like a really lame RC car, it’s actually a great introduction to programming logic. When you write a computer program, you must give the computer a series of steps in order to complete a task. Botley is a tangible way children can begin to understand the coder’s way of thinking. The best part about Botley, though, is that his complexity is adjustable. If you have a very young child, like a preschooler, teaching him or her how to input basic two or three step commands is sufficient. However, for older children, Botley is capable of taking instructions over 100 steps long. Additionally, Botley has a button that allows children to code loops so that a set of instructions is repeated more than once, another important concept beginning coders must learn. Botley also includes an object detection mode that allows kids to execute If/Then type statements. With Object Detection mode activated, kids can program Botley to follow a different set of steps if he detects an object in his path.
I gave Botley to both of my boys to play with and I honestly thought they’d be through with it in a matter of minutes. I was amazed, however, to see them both engaged with the toy throughout the weekend. The youngest was enthralled with programming fairly simple commands, but once my oldest commandeered it, he set to work building complex obstacle courses for Botley to run through. He even managed to program Botley to fetch a bottle of water he placed on the floor in a different room.
Besides just the robot and the remote, Botley comes with tools to expand what you do with him. The kit includes a set of programming cards with the various command icons on them. Kids can use these to plan the steps they need to give Botley so that he’ll follow a specific course. Additionally, the kit comes with plastic blocks and building tools — similar to tinker toys — that children can use to design their obstacle courses.
While Botley includes an easy-to-follow manual with simple coding challenges that introduce you to his various features, the fun really begins once you set out on your own. Botley is an excellent and tangible way to introduce your child to the world of coding and serves as a great segue into other computer programming tools such as Hour of Code , Scratch or Apple’s Swift Playgrounds.
- Botley Robot
- Remote Programmer
- Detachable Robot Arms
- 40 Coding Cards
- Starter Guide with Coding Challenges.
You can find out more about Botley or purchase him, here.