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.


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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.

Flotilla and Minecraft Pi Light-Up Real-World Furnace with Python

Our first Flotilla Python project adds a lit furnace effect to our real-world Minecraft storage solution. We can now make the furnace glow with a programmable fire effect using the array of RGB LEDs on the Flotilla Rainbow module.

Flotilla is a plug-and-play electronics dock and modules for the Raspberry Pi from Pimoroni. We backed the Flotilla Kickstarter and have a big treasure chest of components to play with. You can read our first impressions review (keep in mind that it was early days) and our more recent experience with the Flotilla Cookbook recipes.

We decorated IKEA storages boxes to create a Minecraft chest, furnace and crafting table, check our our real-world Minecraft storage article to find out how to do this. Originally we just created a removeable cardboard cut-out to allow the furnace to change between lit and unlit, but the long term plan is to add electronics to our Minecraft storage.

The Flotilla Rainbow Module

The Flotilla Rainbow Module has 5 bright RGB LEDs in a row. Perfect for creating a fire effect in front our our furnace. The Minecraft furnace had red colours towards the outer edges through to orange and then yellow in the middle so we wanted to program a similar effect.

Choosing Python

We considered the Rockpool UI for controlling the Rainbow module but it didn't seem to be quite the right tool and also we knew we would want to link up with Minecraft Pi using Python.

We looked at node-red (a graphical way of connecting up inputs and outputs with functions in between) but couldn't work out how to set the LEDs individually. We'll have a look at Flotilla node-red again in future, we did get some other stuff working.

Installing Flotilla Python

The instructions for installing Flotilla Python can be found right at the end of

Note that if you don't have git installed then you can just go to and choose Clone or download -> Download ZIP and then unzip the downloaded zip. 

A set of examples is included so we took a copy of the example to get us started (there's not much in the way of documentation!)

We also looked at in the Flotilla Python library to see what functions we could use and found that it's pretty straightforward. 

There are methods for setting the colour of each pixel individually or all of them at once and a method for setting the brightness. You also need to call an update method for your changes to take effect. 

First we just tried setting the LEDs to different colours. The set_pixel function takes a pixel number from 0 to 4 and red, green and blue values, each from 0 to 255.

Here's the code:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import time
from random import *

import flotilla

from mcpi.minecraft import Minecraft
import mcpi.block as block

mc = Minecraft.create()

client = flotilla.Client(
            'eight': flotilla.Rainbow

on = False

    while True:

        for module in client.available.values():
            if module.is_a(flotilla.Rainbow):

                if on:
                    red = randint(155,255)
                    module.set_pixel(0, red, 0, 0)             
                    module.set_pixel(1, red, 55, 0)
                    module.set_pixel(2, 255, 135, 0)
                    module.set_pixel(3, red, 55, 0)
                    module.set_pixel(4, red, 0, 0)
                    module.set_all(0, 0, 0)
        for hitBlock in
            if mc.getBlock(hitBlock.pos.x, hitBlock.pos.y, hitBlock.pos.z) ==               
                mc.setBlock(hitBlock.pos.x, hitBlock.pos.y, hitBlock.pos.z,, hitBlock.face)
                on = True
            elif mc.getBlock(hitBlock.pos.x, hitBlock.pos.y, hitBlock.pos.z) ==
                mc.setBlock(hitBlock.pos.x, hitBlock.pos.y, hitBlock.pos.z,, hitBlock.face)
                on = False
except KeyboardInterrupt:

This all worked very smoothly. There's lots of scope for trying out different ways to create more realistic fire effects.

Diffusing the Light 

During prototyping we used a box lid to diffuse the light to see what kind of effect we could create.

We added code to change the amount of red in the four outer LEDs within a range. The amount of red changes every tenth of a second to create a flickering effect. 

We also experimented with the brightness of the LEDs to create a realistic flame effect. 

3D Printed Diffusion Panel

Next we created designed a 3D printed diffusion panel in Open SCAD to go in front of the Rainbow module.

The pixels in our real-world Minecraft are 2cm square. We only created a panel for the inner part of the bottom of the furnace so that we didn't need to 3D print a huge panel. 

Here's the OpenSCAD code for creating the shape that we used:

sw = 20;

rows = [6, 6, 4, 2];
for (i = [0:len(rows)-1]) {
  translate([sw*(3-rows[i]/2), 0, 0]) {
    for (j = [0 : rows[i]-1]) {
      difference() {
        translate([sw*j, sw*i, 1.25]) cube([sw, sw, 2.5], center = true);
        translate([sw*j, sw*i, 1.25+2]) cube([sw-4, sw-4, 2.5], center = true);

If you don't have access to a 3D printer then you could just cut a shape from some semi-translucent plastic packaging or cover a cardboard frame with tissue paper.

Turning the Furnace on from Minecraft Pi

Of course the next obvious step was to be able to turn the Furnace on from Minecraft Pi using Python. You don't have crafting in Minecraft Pi but you do have active and inactive Furnace blocks.

When programming Minecraft with Python on the Raspberry Pi you're pretty limited in what events you can access. You do get an event when a block gets hit so that's what we used. 

When you hit an inactive Furnace it turns to active and so does the Furnace in real world Minecraft. When you hit an active Furnace it switches to inactive and so does the Furnace in real world Minecraft. 

Here's the end result:

We're pretty please with what we managed to do and we'll be doing more projects with Flotilla and Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi.

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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Flotilla and Minecraft Pi Light-Up Real-World Furnace with Python
Flotilla and Minecraft Pi Light-Up Real-World Furnace with Python
Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
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