Lots of kids love robots, and loving robots is just a few steps away from learning robotics!
Benefits of Robotics
Robotics is a STEM activity that:
- encourages creative thinking
- increases technical knowledge
- lets kids practice the scientific method for real
- gives young engineers hands-on learning opportunities
- inspires kids to learn to write code
- builds problem-solving skills.
Robotics teams add more dimensions to the activity of building robots. Teams give kids and teens opportunities to collaborate with one another, learn from mentors, and compete in robotics events. Participating on robotics teams can also give your teen some of that outside evidence that is so important for the college applications process.
Plus, robotics is fun!
While homeschooling, you can stimulate an interest in robotics by:
- asking yourself and your kids to be on the lookout for robots in real life and in the news (the Roomba vacuum is a robot in many homes, and NASA's Perseverance has an amazing robotic arm)
- watching a YouTube introduction to robots, like this SciShow Kids Real Life Robots video
- watching a video on surgical robots and "cobots" (preview if your kids are squeamish—or you are!)
- building a simple robot!
Build a Robot
You and your kids can build robots
- from scratch using DIY instructions and electronic parts
- from purchased complete robotics kits
- from purchased tool and parts kits for building multiple robots
- using LEGO® Mindstorms Introduction to Robotics Lesson Plan
- using plans from the Raspberry Pi Foundation (learn more about homeschooling with Raspberry Pi here)
If this sounds intimidating, remember that you don't have to be a technology expert for your kids to take on a project. In fact, you can take the pressure off of yourself by remembering that you don't have to be the expert when your kids outgrow your knowledge. Your job becomes helping find an expert.
Find or Start a Robotics Team
We've curated some resources to help you with your exploration of robotics with your kids. Follow the robotics rabbit trail!
- Y—Young (PreK-3rd)
- M—Middle (4th-6th)
- O—Older (7th-12th)
- T—Teacher Resources
Tynker - Robotics Games and Lessons for Kids
Tynker offers both free and paid code curriculum to teach students aged 5 to 14+ the fundamentals of programming via games, lessons, and tutorials. Students can learn the basics of developing for apps, games, websites, animation, robotics, and more.
mBlock - Visual Robotics Programming for Kids
mBlock is a visual, drag-and-drop platform based on the Scratch programming language. It is slightly more advanced than the Scratch platform and allows students to switch back and forth between the visual language and Python. Students can create games and animations, as well as code robots and boards.
Nasa Robotics Resources and Projects
Nasa offers a large collection of challenges, competitions, projects, and informational videos on robotics. Challenges and competitions are date-specific events, so check back frequently for updated events!
Nasa Robotics Lesson Plans
Nasa offers K-12 lesson plans to introduce students to robotics in the context of space exploration. Most lesson plans are accompanied by a printout, activity, and background video.
EDex Robotics Courses
"Learn robotics with online courses from some of the top universities in the world including the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia. Learn robotics engineering, dynamics, locomotion, machine learning and more."
"The Robot Academy is a collaborative project between Professor Peter Corke and QUT’s eLearning Services." The site hosts more than 200 college-level robotics lessons, including short video lessons and full courses, to learn and master robotics.
MIT Introduction to Robotics
"This course provides an overview of robot mechanisms, dynamics, and intelligent controls. Topics include planar and spatial kinematics, and motion planning; mechanism design for manipulators and mobile robots, multi-rigid-body dynamics, 3D graphic simulation; control design, actuators, and sensors; wireless networking, task modeling, human-machine interface, and embedded software."
STEMpedia Robotics Projects and Products
STEMpedia offers a large collection of step-by-step tutorials for students to create their own DIY robots. The site also sells complete kits for some projects and offers apps to control robots. The projects are designed for beginner to intermediate learners.
Arduino Projects & Robotics Tutorials - RootSaid (YouTube)
The Arduino Projects & Robotics Tutorials YouTube channel has tons of beginner to advanced video tutorials, lessons, and project ideas for students to learn about robotics. Check out the playlists page to get started.
Robots for Kids
"Learn about robotics topics such as artificial intelligence and circuits while enjoying pictures and videos of the coolest robots around. As well as activities for children, there are also lesson plans and worksheets for teachers, ideas for parents, and a whole host of free teaching resources for anyone interested in learning about robots and science online." From Science Kids New Zealand
Engineering And Robotics Learned Young (EARLY) is a program that exposes our youth to engineering. EARLY provides 7 to 12 year olds the opportunity to participate in a robotics competition every fall and spring.
A free robotics program written by two retired college professors. It was designed as a tool for teaching young students to program. According to the site, RobotBASIC can simulate a robot with many types of sensors, control a real robot using the wireless protocol, create animated simulations and video games, handle complex engineering problems, motivate students to learn, and create contests for robot clubs.
First Lego League
FLL is a result of an exciting alliance between FIRST and the LEGO Company. Guided by adult mentors and their own imaginations, FLL students solve real-world engineering challenges, develop important life skills, and learn to make positive contributions to society.
Robotics Alliance Project
Robotics online courses, competitions, challenges, activities, teacher resources, and more. From NASA Robotics.
Botball® is a hands-on learning experience in robotics designed to engage students in learning the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and math.
FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs that build not only science and technology skills and interests, but also self-confidence, leadership, and life skills.
Robofest is an annual autonomous robotics competition for students in grades 5 - 12. Robofest challenges teams of students to design, build, and program robots to compete in playful missions and exhibitions. Students have fun while learning computer programming, engineering, math, and science.
The LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor line of products allows students to create and engage with 5 different robot designs. The product includes an app that includes over 50 activities to bring the robots to life.
Buy and sell used, vintage, and new LEGO parts.