It is that time of the year again. Stores are displaying their Christmas decorations, Michael Bublé music is already filling up the aisles and children throughout the world are already creating their wish list of toys and gadgets – which may only be the flavour of the week until they find themselves in a box under the bed or behind the sock drawer by February.
This Christmas, why not give them a gift that keeps on giving? Look beyond that doll or video game. Have you heard about coding and robotics; what about engineering?
There are a number of options to look at that will not only engage your child to look beyond their cell phone screens – it will also teach them about the Internet of Things (IoT), mathematics, coding and engineering among other things.
The toys we choose to buy for our kids can make a difference to their development. During their growing years, it is important to provide them with educational toys that allow them to learn while they play.
Different types of toys require children to use different skill sets and tap into different learning areas of the brain and while any toy can offer value to a developing brain, there are certain toys – usually referred to as educational, learning or instructional toys – that provide specific value to children.
The beauty of educational toys is two-fold, as they appeal to both the parents and children. At their core, they are still toys, so they don’t seem like homework or a burden to children, yet they conveniently, almost secretly, provide learning benefits.
Brian Andrew, Managing Director for RS Components South Africa, said that we find ourselves in a connected age, where everything we do has become smarter and more connected like never before, meaning we need to prepare our children so that they are equipped for the future.
“I urge parents to look beyond the one-dimensional toys of yesteryear and focus on those that will develop skills that more often than not cannot be learned in the average classroom. Toys such as the Sphero Bolt, Mekamon and the incredible Raspberry Pi computers teach an array of things such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among other things while being absolutely fun to play with.”
“We need to ensure that our children are equipped to understand and participate in this connected age that we are in. STEM toys, in particular, enhance divergent and innovative thinking, help children develop hand-eye coordination, and better promote spatial skills,” he said.
RS Components, as the market leader in the high service level distribution of electrical, electronic, mechanical, tools and industrial products, also has a number of STEM-focused toys, gadgets and gizmos for not only children, but the whole family to explore.
Here are some of them.
MekaMon Bezerker V2
From Reach Robotics, MekaMon is a fully programmable four-legged robot with lifelike movement, outstanding build quality and an expressive personality.
MekaMon has been designed to entertain, inspire, and educate. Simply connect the MekaMon robot to your Android or Apple device to take control and start coding.
Using MekaMon with the ReachEdu App unlocks an unprecedented coding education experience.
Beginning with the basics, MekaMon is designed to offer a comprehensive introduction to coding without the need for prior specialist knowledge.
Coding on a real-world robot with a range of sensors and lifelike motion makes code tangible, teaching students of all ages through engaging, gamified learning while offering them the opportunity to explore and creatively experiment.
The MekaMon app unlocks a world of cutting edge augmented reality (AR) and multiplayer gameplay, plunging your MekaMon into intense virtual robot battles.
You can explore the rich history of the MekaMon Universe and learn the unique lore behind the world of your robot.
The Sphero Bolt is an app-enabled robotic ball that you can drive and code, providing endless opportunities to be creative and have fun while learning. Bolt’s programmable 8×8 LED Matrix can animate and display real-time data.
Advanced yet approachable, you can learn programming, complete hands-on activities, and share your creations with the community.
Programmable sensors include infrared, compass, light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and motor encoders.
Simply drive Bolt and play games with the Sphero play app. Durable. Waterproof. Inductive charging. Learn how to code using Apple’s Swift programming language
Watch the video below.
MeArm Robotic Arm
The MeArm Deluxe Kit from Mime Industries is a robot arm kit containing the MeArm and the joystick controller.
The Deluxe Kit is the perfect way to enter the world of robotics and engineering, with a hint of programming too. This flat-pack style kit can be put together with just a screwdriver to hand.
The MeArm Deluxe Kit is a desktop robotic arm which you can control with the Joystick (supplied) or an Arduino or Raspberry Pi board.
The option is yours. Once the MeArm robotic arm is all set up, you can keep it on your desktop or workbench. You could even add some LED lighting to make this cool little robot even more eye-catching.
Watch the video below.
XinaBox IoT Starter XK19 Kit
This kit gives you everything needed to build an Internet of Things (IoT) smart device that collects environmental data, and to which an actuator can be attached for automation projects.
Control an electric gate, garage door, or fan, and connect to IoT dashboards to create alerts and control algorithms.
View sensor data, IoT messages and diagnostics locally on the mini-OLED display.
In the box you will find an xChip sensor for temperature, humidity and pressure, a Wi-Fi and BLE Core xChip (ESP-WROOM-32), mini-OLED display, a solid state relay to switch low voltage appliances, connectors, a programming interface (which also acts as a USB power source), and a RasPi bridge.
Watch the video below.
Raspberry Pi 4
This exclusive 8-piece Raspberry Pi 4 starter kit includes everything you need to get going in the world of Raspberry Pi – from all the hardware in a single box, to access to an online step-by-step guide as well as projects to get up and running faster than ever, effortlessly.
Each kit contains the best performing Raspberry Pi 4 Model B board along with a power supply, 2 micro HDMI cables for dual display, SD Card Reader and a 32GB micro SD card with NOOBS operating system preloaded.
The kit also has 3 heat sinks and a unique aluminium case with inbuilt fan for better thermal management to address a known issue with the Pi 4.
With all of the most current components on the market included in this Raspberry Pi 4 kit, it’s perfect for anyone interested in electronics at any level of experience.
Raspberry Pi’s are compact computer boards roughly the size of a credit card, offering endless opportunity. The Pi was first designed to be a user-friendly alternative to more complicated computer boards but giving the same high specification output, allowing for the customer to do whatever they want with it.
Whether you’re planning on introducing programming to children, or an engineer looking to make a complex-controlled system, simply plug into a monitor, keyboard, mouse and power supply and you’re ready to go.
Watch the video below.
This article was published in partnership with RS Components.