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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Roby the Robot Dog gets an LED Dog Tag


Roby the Robot Dog is my 7 year old son's ongoing project. It started as a labelled diagram and has turned into a family project to make as much of it reality as possible.

Roby now has a programmable dog tag with 4 RBG LEDs which can be controlled individually to create cool patterns.

You can catch up with the Roby story in these posts:

Roby's Dog Tag - Hardware

In the original design Roby had an LED collar. We might add that at some point, but we decided that a dog tag would be a good start as we already had the components we needed. Roby's dog tag is a MakeBlock RBG LED module which was included in the servo extension pack.

This add-on module can be plugged in to a spare port on mBot and provides attachments points for screwing it on to mBot metal brackets. We actually attached it to Meccano parts of Roby.



mBlock Scratch Coding

Programming the LED module is straightforward. You just specify the port the module is connected to and which of the four (labelled) LEDs you want to address. The colour is set using RGB values which kids get the hang of pretty easily. It's really quick to just try different colour combinations with mBot because there's no compile, upload cycle, changes are instant. Time delays are created using the Scratch 'wait' command which my son is used to using.

Roby's Moods

You can address all four LEDs at once in a single command if you want to which is really convenient. My son uses this for Roby's different moods. E.g. Red for angry, Green for happy. At the moment these are controlled using by key presses but eventually they could be triggered as a response to specific situations.

You can put Roby into Happy mode with the 'h' key. The 'z' for sleep turns the LEDs off. 'a' puts Roby into angry mode but only for a few seconds - she doesn't stay angry for long. Tail-wagging can easily be included in the moods too.

Roby's Moods in mBlock Scratch code
We used events so that the moods can be triggered actions other than key presses. A great way to understand decoupling!

LED Patterns

mBlock Scratch setting individual LEDs
You can address Roby's LEDs individually which is great for creating cool patterns.

The LEDs are numbered from 1 to 4 and these numbers appear on the actual physical LED board so it's really easy for kids to understand how to address them.

We created a swirl pattern where the LEDs light up in turn.

There's so much scope for coding cool patterns with the LED dog tag.

Roby's LED dog tag in action:

Colours!

The four LEDs in the dog tag are full RGB leds so you can set red, green and blue to values from 0 to 255. This means you can choose from loads of colours!

To demonstrate this we've created a custom block that chooses random colours. The colours are really bright and Roby's dog tag lights up the floor in front of her. 

mBlock Scratch LED colours!

Overview

The more we use mBot the more impressed we are with its versatility. It's brilliant to have lots of things on the main board and still be able to easily connect lots more. The components MakeBlock have provided are perfect for children, mine always want lots of movement, light and sound in their projects.

With earlier versions of the mBlock software we had some teething troubles but there have been regular updates and everything is much smoother now.

The LED add-on for mBot has been a great addition. It came in a pack when we bought a servo so we didn't specifically choose to buy it. However, it was just right for creating Roby a very cool dog tag. The LEDs are really bright and light up the floor around the robot.

You can also control the built-in LEDs on the body of mBot in a similar way so Roby has plenty of lights! This means that even without the extra LED add-on you still have two RGB LEDs that you can address individually on the main mBot board.

In the next Roby post she will get a speaker so she can bark. You can subscribe to the Tech Age Kids mailing list to see future Roby updates.


Read next: mBot Robot Review


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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Roby the Robot Dog gets an LED Dog Tag
Roby the Robot Dog gets an LED Dog Tag
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
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