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Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

REVIEWS$show=/search/label/review

Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

GIFT GUIDES$show=/search/label/gift%20guide

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

PROJECTS$show=/search/label/project

Get crafty with technology. Here we'll post all our ideas and projects using technology to get creative and making with kids. You'll find anything from making a lemon battery to a glow-in-the-dark Minecraft sword. Our projects are tried and tested on our own kids or at events we run, so we are sure you can have a go at home with your kids. Some of our projects use specific tech gadgets which we provide links for you to purchase.

STEM$show=/search/label/stem

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

CODING$show=/search/label/coding

Coding is increasingly being recognised as an important skill for children to learn. Some will learn to code at school or at a coding club, but it's brilliant if they get support at home too.

ELECTRONICS$show=/search/label/electronics

We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

ROBOTICS$show=/search/label/robotics

We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

Ozobot Coding with OzoBlockly


Ozobot is a mini robot that can be programmed with OzoBlockly, a graphical drag and drop language. My kids have been working on a LEGO town for their OzoBots.

OzoBlockly supports line-following and colour reading behaviour and allow you to control the robot's movement and RGB LED light.

In this article we'll look at the OzoBlockly code that we used to program Ozobot with custom behaviour for the town.

OzoBot in Action

You can find out more in our Ozobot in LEGO town post, but here's the video that demonstrates Ozobot's behaviour as it follows the path and reads stickers to perform actions.


Using OzoBlockly

OzoBlockly runs in a web browser and offers drag and drop coding. OzoBlockly offers different levels of coding for different abilities starting with icon-based coding that can be used by kids who can't read yet. 

You can mix and match blocks from different levels so my kids were able to use some of the preprogrammed light sequences (rainbow and fireworks) within a more complex program. 

You can also program the lights by choosing precise colours and adding in delays. My 9 year old had specific requirements for the 'harbour' behaviour so that was directly coded. 

Ozobot's behaviour is a bit different to the robots my kids have programmed before so they needed some help figuring out how to get the behaviour they wanted. We worked together to understand things for the first time and then they could extend the code once the framework was in place.  

We like that you can mix up the line-following behaviour and the programmed movement within a single program.


Line Reading Behaviour

Out of the box, Ozobot is a line following robot that reads colour code commands. The line-following behaviour can still be accessed in custom coding mode. 

You can tell Ozobot to continue until the next intersection or line end. At intersections Ozobot will choose a random direction. 

The code for my kids LEGO town started really simply. Just using the line following capability to wander around the town choosing a random path at intersections.

Basic wandering code
The line colour changes at an intersection as Ozobot decides which way to go. Other behaviours could be added here in future.

If a line end is found (a dead end) then Ozobot turns round and carries on its journey.

Line End Colour Detection

When Ozobot reaches the end of a path it can check for a colour. We've used this feature by adding small coloured stickers at the end of paths to tell Ozobot what to do. 

This project is a work in progress but at the moment a blue path end sticker indicates an Ozobot home. Ozobot will turn its light blue and take a rest when it finds a home.

A blue sticker at the end of a line indicates a home


When Ozobot finds a red sticker that indicates a special behaviour. As well as line-following behaviour Ozobot's movement can be directly programmed. This capability is used to move forward and then read the colour of the sticker that is found.




A red sticker indicates a light show - Ozobot will do a light display. This feature is used under a translucent brick structure. Ozobot drives under a crystal dome and lights it up.

A blue sticker indicates a waiting spot such as the harbour. Ozobot alternates between blue and green lights while it waits.




A green sticker indicates a trick - Ozobot will charge forward and push or knock over an obstacle and then do a firework light display to celebrate.


    Other behaviours can be added later using this approach. 

    Loading OzoBlockly Programs

    OzoBlockly is available as a web app. It can be used from PCs and tablets. Saving projects only works on PCs at the moment though. Saving is to a downloaded file rather than to a cloud-based account. 

    For a longer term project like this it's important to be able to save work so we've used a PC although a tablet would have been more convenient for working close to the board. (We'd love to see saving to an account in future so it's easy to access previous projects.)

    You load code onto an Ozobot by placing it onto the computer screen which displays a sequence of colours. The longer your code is the longer this takes. 

    With this project we would go through a few iterations of coding and uploading and then the boys would play with their Ozobots and explore the new feature they had added. 

    What Next?

    The play board still has plenty of blank space. The boys are planning more LEGO structures and paths for Ozobot to navigate. They can reuse the behaviours that are already programmed by adding coloured stickers. And they have the option to add more code too.


    Name

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    Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Ozobot Coding with OzoBlockly
    Ozobot Coding with OzoBlockly
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    Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
    https://www.techagekids.com/2016/02/ozobot-coding-with-ozoblockly.html
    https://www.techagekids.com/
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