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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.

EdCreate: Edison Robot Creator's Kit - Review


EdCreate is a 5 in 1 expansion pack for the Edison Robot using Lego compatible components. It is designed to teach children about coding and robotics, with the added layer of creativity and design. Most of these models require two of the Edison robots (not included, see separate review here), which in turn need the connection lead to be able to program them from a computer.

Review by Phil Wickins from Run Don't Walk

Disclaimer: This set was sent to us by Edison Robotics to review, all opinions are our own.


What's in the box?


The EdCreate 5 in 1 expansion pack contains all the necessary building blocks to make 5 different working robotic models, shown in the main picture. These pieces are very similar to Technic Lego, although feel slightly lighter and 'cheaper'. All of the instructions are online and can be found at meetedison.com

Getting Started

The first thing you need to know about this kit is that it requires two Edison robots and a connector cable (so you can program them. I had to buy a new cable as the original had been lost, purchased easily and quickly at Cool Components).

This kit is literally just the pieces required to build onto the robots.




My daughter was unfortunately put off by the technical looking pieces, but loved the mechanical nature of the models. My son and his friend (both age 9) however were instantly hooked and decided to build the printer, which turns out to be the more advanced model out of the five. I immediately searched for instructions and found both a PDF and videos on the website for how to build; as my son is familiar with Lego instructions, he opted for the PDF. 


Building


However, once the boys had started, two things became apparent. Firstly, the instructions were not easy to follow. The pictures did not show fully how the pieces fitted together and had too many steps contained in each page. This meant that the children were stuck on the same page for a long while where up to 10 pieces fitted together.

This certainly made it appear like progress was slow and their enthusiasm began to wane. I think because with Lego and similar construction toys, even more advanced Technic Lego, the instructions provide a sense of pace and satisfaction as the assembly is shown in a greater number of simpler steps. 


Secondly, the pieces fitted together impossibly tightly. Once they were in, they were impossible to get out. Therefore, because of the difficult instructions, the children found themselves constantly asking me to remove certain pieces (in particular the light grey part stud, part cross axel parts), which in the end I had to resort to using pliers!

Eventually, whilst still only on the second page, they asked me to intervene. They were still interested in the project, but they found the build too frustrating.

Admittedly it was the 'hardest' of the 5 models to build, but the style of instructions looked pretty similar for all of the other models too.


I managed to eventually build the printer and assemble the pen and paper ready to run, with the boys excitedly looking on. In a classroom situation, I imagine this scenario would have proved extremely challenging!


Coding


There are a variety of coding platforms to use with the Edison robots. The boys chose to use EdScratch, as it is similar to Scratch, which they have used at school. Once we had found the link to it (after a lot of searching on the meetedison.com site, it's not obvious!), the coding platform ran pretty seamlessly online. The blocks were similarly colour coded to Scratch and had similar functionality, with the added benefit of error descriptions and warnings at the bottom of the page. 

My main concern is that you are forced to use the Start block (you cannot delete it, and no code will be installed into the robots without something attached to the Start block). But what does this actually mean? How do you 'Start'? There are lots of other starting blocks within the 'Events' section, including when triangle button pushed (Which is what I thought 'Start' was!), when clap detected etc, so why can't you begin the procedure with one of these?

So despite the felt tip bleeding on the paper as it sat in contact with it, waiting for us to write the code and run it, we managed to get the horizontal movement working. This moved the pen a very limited distance (due to the nature of the model) left and right. 

However, when we ran the code for the other robot, that controls the paper feed, the motor (despite brand new batteries) was not strong enough to push the paper through. We spent a while on minor adjustments and trimming the paper, even helping it through by hand, however it was a disappointing end to what started out as a potentially mind expanding project.

What does it teach kids?

If the robots worked as intended, this project would have been so rewarding and taught the children so much in terms of coding, debugging, physical computing, design and also mathematical aspects to be able to print specific shapes/ designs.

If the instructions were a little simpler and the pieces a little easier to build with, it would have developed independence and creativity too.

The different coding platforms are a great idea and teaches kids how to transfer concepts, not just learn one type of software. Having said this, it is also good that Scratch has been mimicked so that children can instantly feel at home and navigate their way around easily. 

Verdict

Great ideas, but difficult to get going due to the build quality, difficult instructions and lack of power in the motors.
I know this probably isn't possible due to Lego already having their Mindstorm and Wedo computing projects, but it seems to me it would be an easier option to refer to an actual existing Lego Technic set, then create instructions for models that can be made with the Edison robot using that set. This would guarantee the quality of the components, plus give children at home the opportunity to use their existing sets rather than buying more.




The meetedison.com website itself needs a little more clarity in terms of making the links more obvious, plus it would be a great idea to feature some videos of the robots from this kit working, and demonstrating the kind of code needed to achieve this.

I'd recommend this kit for older children who can problem solve independently, yet still enjoy construction toys and block-based programming. A narrow age range in my opinion, probably restricted to Year 7 or 8 (ages 11-13)?

National Curriculum Links (United Kingdom):

Key stage 1

Computing: 
Pupils should be taught to:
  • understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices; and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions
  • create and debug simple programs
  • use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs

Key stage 2

Computing: 
Pupils should be taught to:
  • design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
  • use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output
  • use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs
Design Technology:
Pupils should be taught to:
  • understand and use electrical systems in their products [for example, series circuits incorporating switches, bulbs, buzzers, and motors]
  • apply their understanding of computing to program, monitor and control their products.

Name

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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: EdCreate: Edison Robot Creator's Kit - Review
EdCreate: Edison Robot Creator's Kit - Review
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
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