STEM robotics toys are toys that can perform automatic tasks once assembled or put together. Some of these toys are straight mechanical and do not involve programming. Some are programmable and require kids to write codes or commands in order for the robot to move. Of course, you can also find non-programmable engineering kits for middle-school-aged kids.
Robotics toys help kids understand the fundamentals of engineering and programming, as well as expand their knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. So what are the best robotics toys for kids that are educational, have the right level of complexity, and most importantly, fun? What are the best coding toys to buy? We rounded up the most popular robotic toys in the market today and tested them with parents and kids of different ages. These are the best STEM robotics toys that you should consider.
1. Best Overall STEM Robotics Toy for Kids
Why Is It the Best?
- Programmable through STEM apps that offer different coding levels
- Can be activated through voice
- Easy and clear instructions and a wide range of challenges
- Can dance, race, avoid obstacles, talk, record voices
- Compatible with add on accessories to facilitate various games
- Fun and entertaining for small kids and teenagers
Among all the models we evaluated, the Wonder Workshop Dash is hands down the best robotics toy for kids. There are many reasons to love this little robot. To begin with, this robotics toy Dash is programmed through free programming STEM apps that you can download through a phone or tablet. From picture-based coding language for young kids to advanced coding commands, your child has the option to use the programming method that she is comfortable with. Not only that, but the apps also offer a wide range of challenges and games.
Once assembled, Dash becomes a multi-skilled robot friend that can dance, race, detect and avoid obstacles, and talk to your child. With additional accessories, Dash can do advanced tricks such as sketching, launching balls, playing instruments, and so on. This robotics toy has an impressive 5 hours of playtime and 30 days of standby time. It’s truly a STEM Robot that can grow with your child.
2. Best Coding-Free Robotics Toy For Beginners
Why We Love It?
- Doesn’t require programming, easy for parents
- Comes with all accessories, only require a screwdriver and batteries
- Can auto-detect edges and obstacles
- Fun to watch the robotic crab crawling around
4M 5576 Table Top Robot is a wonderful introductory robotic toy that doesn’t involve programming. This robot kit comes with all parts needed and is fairly easy to put together. However, you do need a Philips screwdriver and one AAA battery.
The manufacturer suggests that this toy is for kids 8-years or older. Since this kit doesn’t need coding, it’s easy to introduce to young kids. Additionally, if you are not well-versed in building robotics toys or you are not familiar with STEM subjects, this one is fairly easy for you.
3. Most Versatile Robotics Toy for Kids
Why We Love It?
- Can be programmed through a free phone app
- Can turn into five different robots
- Interactive and motorized robots that have tilt sensors
- Compatible with other LEGO toys
- Award-winning STEM learning toy
If your kiddo is a LEGO fun or she is not satisfied with only one robot, the 5-In-1 LEGO Boost Robot Building Set is there to impress her. With 847 LEGO pieces, your child can turn this robot kit to a robotic friend, a pet cat, a guitar, a tank, as well as an auto builder. All these can be done through a free app on your phone or tablet.
More remarkably, each robot has its own commands and skillsets to perform unique tasks. If your kiddo is up for more complicated challenges, she can add other LEGO accessories and building blocks.
4. Most Fun & Personable STEM Robotics Toy for Kids
Why We Love It?
- Has the best resemblance to a real-life companion robot
- Personable and friendly, can express emotions and interact with your kid
- Continuous update with new moves and tricks
- Multiple games to play together with
- Unique ways to explore how Cozmo sees the world
- Different programming levels: sandbox, intermediate, and Python SDK
As a news media darling, the Anki Cozmo has earned lots of praise from technology news platforms such as CNET and WIRED. Made with more than 300 parts, Cozmo can do the tricks and moves that other robotic toys do, but his most exceptional feature is its personality. Built with voice sensors and facial recognition capability, Cozmo is trained through AI technology to recognize your child and communicate emotionally.
In terms of coding, there are different levels of programming games in the phone app. Once your child gets to a more advanced level, he can tap into the Python SDK to unleash Cozmo’s full capacity. If you by any chance get interested in this robotic toy, which happens quite often, you can buy the adult version called Vector.
5. Best STEM Robotics Toy for Preschoolers
Why We Love It?
- Easy for young kids and beginners
- Has clear step-by-step instructions
- Robotic mouse can make interactive sounds
- Screen-free and doesn’t require tablets or phones
What is the best robotics kit for beginners? If you are like many other eager parents who want to introduce STEM robotic toys to kids at a young age, the Code & Go Robot Mouse is the best choice. It is designed for kids as young as 4-year-old.
Your child can enter up to 40 commands to program the robot mouse to navigate on a customizable maze with obstacles. To make it more fun and challenging, there are guided coding activities to give your child a head start. Loved by many parents and preschoolers, this Code & Go Robot Mouse is an excellent toy for Programming 101.
What Are Robotic Toys?
Robotics are technologies that involve the design, construction, and application of robots. Robotic toys are simplified versions that are suitable for children. They are easier to construct or program, related to objects that are familiar to kids, and are more for fun than its functionality. The first two robotic toys that had a great impact are Lego MindStorms and Furby that were introduced in 1998.
Benefits Of Playing with STEM Robotics Toys
There are many reasons why parents today are eager for their children to learn programming and coding by playing with robotic toys. For one, it is a more relaxing way to introduce STEM to a young kid, and on the other hand, it helps train a child to think logically and build confidence. The main benefits of learning robotics are:
- It helps build a child’s problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills
- It challenges a child’s brain and prompts him to be resilient and persistent
- Through successful coding experience, a child will build confidence and realizes his or her ability to conquer difficulties
- It invites a child to think out of the box and be creative
- It also helps a child to develop interests in STEM subjects and eventually helps lead them to an academic pursuit or career in STEM disciplines.
Introducing Robotic Toys to Kids
Introducing a robot or a coding toy to a child should be in a relaxing and fun setting. The first impression has a great impact on how your child perceives robotic toys and thus determines how receptive they will be. Here are some tips for how to introduce a robot to a kid:
- Demonstrate to your child what a robot can do to prompt their curiosity and interest to explore
- Involve your child in robot-related videos, events, workshops before buying your child a robot toy. This will help determine his readiness and preference
- For the first couple of times, play with the robot or coding toy with your child together
- Be patient and explain solutions to your child and answer his questions in detail
- Start with simple coding toys. It’s important to find age-appropriate robotic toys for your child
- Constantly acknowledge his effort and give him encouragement
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is STEM Or STEAM ?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It’s used to describe something that is
When you see the term STEM Toys or STEAM Toys, it means the toys prompt the users to practice their understanding of STEM or STEAM subjects and strengthen their knowledge in these subjects.
What Is Child Coding?
Coding or programming is the practice to make instructions that a computer can understand and perform specific tasks accordingly. Child coding is for children, mostly teens, to write such programs to command a toy subject. This exercise is to train a child the fundamental concepts of coding without getting into code writing or the understanding of syntax.
How Much Does A Robot Kit Cost?
The price for a robot kit or coding toy varies, depending on its complexity, the manufacture, and the user’s age range. On average, a decent robot kit costs between $40 to $60. However, you can also find cheaper introductory STEM robot kits for as low as $25. Once your child is ready for more sophisticated robotic toys, you will realize that a decent programmable robot can cost $100. There are also fancy ones like Misty Robotics Mysty II that costs more than $2000.
Cecilia Yeung is a successful entrepreneur and product researcher. She has a background in psychology and children’s education. As a working mother of two, she loves to write about children’s education and development.