NEWS$show=/search/label/news

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.

Code a Racer with Sam Labs


SAM Labs have launched their new kit called CURIOUS, which guides you along to make and programme your own racers. Over the summer we created a remote control racer, using LEGO and 4 SAM Lab blocks. This project has been a real joint effort with various members of Tracy and my families adding their skills to the project.

We will be sharing our project with you and looking closer at the new CURIOUS kit. Stayed tuned for more exciting news and projects from Tech Age Kids, by subscribing to our mailing list.


How we made our LEGO racer

The project was made in 3 stages. We used 1 DC motor block, 1 LED block and 2 button SAM blocks for the LEGO racer project.

Firstly we built the LEGO racer base. This was done by Tracy's engineer brother-in-law. We used the SAM block LEGO compatible connectors in the design, to secure the DC Motor SAM block and a LED SAM block onto the base. A bit of sticky tack is used to secure the DC motor to the LEGO disc.



Next the race was designed and built with LEGO. This was done by my middle son (8 yrs). He loves building with LEGO and has a big selection to choose from. I sent him away to design something that will look like a racer but also give us easy access to the SAM blocks for charging.



Finally we wanted to operate the LEGO racer using two SAM block buttons. The idea was that one button will make the racer move forward and the other will move it backwards. For this part, my teenager shared his coding skills to add custom code to the project program. He improved the idea, by changing the colour of the LED depending on the direction the racer was going.



As we only had one motor block, we couldn't change the direction our racer was going in. The video below shows the LEGO racer in action.



The Sam Labs Code for our racer


Coding with SAM Labs can be very simple, but sometimes the basic drag and drop functionality of the application requires custom code to achieve your goal.

In the case of the LEGO racer, we needed quite a bit of custom code to operate one DC motor with two different buttons and program the LED to turn green when going forwards and red when reversing.

See screenshots of our SAM Application Code and custom code.


Get Started with CURIOUS

SAM Labs have come a long way, from when they first launched, by making their kits accessible for families to get started more easily.


This new kit comes with 20+ starter projects to help you get started right away. The kit includes everything you need to make your first SAM Racer:

  • 6 SAM blocks - 1 button, 1 LED, 1 tilt sensor, 1 slider and 2 DC motors
  • a LEGO compatible base for the racer
  • a plastic housing which holds the button, tilt and slider blocks to make a controller
  • 2 wheels
  • micro USB cables for charging the SAM blocks.

The kit comes with several pre-cut cardboard templates, in lovely bright colours, to make the papercraft racer. As the base is LEGO compatible, you'd be able to design your own LEGO racer like we did above.

Once you've learnt how SAM Labs work and played around with the code, you can use the SAM blocks for other projects. We've done quite a few other projects and enjoy creating, inventing and making with SAM Labs.


The new CURIOUS kit, is available from Amazon.com or the SAM Labs online store in the UK.




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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Code a Racer with Sam Labs
Code a Racer with Sam Labs
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
https://www.techagekids.com/2016/09/code-racer-with-sam-labs.html
https://www.techagekids.com/
https://www.techagekids.com/
https://www.techagekids.com/2016/09/code-racer-with-sam-labs.html
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