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Robot Engineer

Lower Age: 3+
Website: http://thamesandkosmos.com/index.php/product/category/science-kits/robot-engineer
Price: $49.99
Year Added: 2016

Robot Engineer combines a 32-page illustrated storybook with 53 large, colorful building pieces to teach young children about robotics, including different concepts like gear trains, gear ratios, and axles. The illustrated storybook functions as a manual with a total of 10 different robot designs for children to recreate! As children go through the story, they will be introduced to Ty and Karlie Omega, siblings who love learning about STEM. Their mom is a mechanical engineer who built their robot friend, Huxley, who helps guide the kids as they learn about the functions of different robots. As the characters move through the story they encounter various robots that are able to solve certain problems and complete different tasks. For example, they end up at a candy factory, where they learn how Adam the Robotic Arm can pick items up and move them somewhere new. Whenever the characters meet a new robot, the manual provides both the step-by-step instructions to build that robot plus information about the unique aspects of its functionality. Although the manual does provide these robot designs, children are free to build anything they want with the pieces. The set contains some smaller parts that can aid the development of spatial reasoning in young children, as they learn how to best manipulate them into place in their designs. Robot Engineer promotes engineering thinking and design by giving children the goal of correctly building the designs provided in the storybook. Children will also be exposed to the idea of designing with a client in mind, which is a vital skill for any engineer. This set is great for either cooperative play between multiple children or single-player use. Following along with the adventures of Ty and Karlie, children will both have fun and learn as they go!

Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: Apply science, work in a team

Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A problem, a client, a user

Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: Spatial reasoning, working as a team, problem solving, coding/programming (in story only)

Overall ratings:

  • Children Reviews
    • Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • "I liked building with it!"
      • "I love building robots."
      • "My favorite was how the robot's gears really moved!"
  • Parents Reviews
    • Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
    • Feedback: "My 3 and 5 year old children enjoyed listening to the story and building the robots needed to help solve the problem. I like that the story introduced the concept of gears. This toy inspired my children to makeup their own stories and design robots to help solve the problems the characters encountered."
  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews
    • Rating: 4 out of 5.0
    • Feedback: "This toy provides an age appropriate context to engage young children in building with purpose for a client. Children work on spatial reasoning skills as they use the provided plans to build the robots needed to solve the problem in the story. Children are also introduced to the basics of gears."