For teens who are interested in STEM, robotics is a fun way for them to learn about multiple aspects of STEM. Not only do they get to experience aspects of engineering and technology, they get to create something tangible. Robotics kits for teens make it easy to get started with building lots of different robots all from the comfort of home.
Getting Started in Coding & Robotics for Teens
There are basically two parts to every robot: the code and the mechanics. Coding is what allows robots to be programmed to do particular tasks. While the mechanics of a robot actually perform the tasks, coding is what programs the robot to do all the individual functions in order to perform a task. Think of coding as the brains, and the robot itself as the body. Just like a computer, a robot will only do what it is programmed to do.
Robotics kits for teens use a variety of different coding languages. Those designed for beginners typically use a block-based coding language that allows teens to literally drag and drop blocks of code. More advanced robotics kits use text-based languages, including C, C++, and Python, with Python language being the most commonly used. Python’s syntax is similar to English, making it a great language for beginners while also being one of the most in-demand coding languages for programmers.
What can teens learn from robotics?
Robotics for teens helps teach skills that are both particular to STEM and that are general life skills that will benefit them at any age:
- Problem Solving
- Creative Thinking
Every robotics kit for teens requires the robot to be assembled, including installing sensors and motors. This is a great introduction to engineering as mechanical engineers can work to design the mechanics of robots and robotic equipment.
Every robot also requires programming to allow it to do the tasks it was designed to do. Learning how to code is both beneficial for robotics and for a wide range of future careers, from developers to IT professionals to entrepreneurs.
Robotics are also useful for helping teens develop strong problem solving and creative thinking skills. Whether there’s an issue with building a robot from a kit, or there’s a problem that can be solved using a robot, teens get practice figuring out how to solve problems on their own. Many times solving those problems requires creative thinking. Maybe a robot needs to be built a little differently or a new line of code needs to be added that doesn’t follow the typical procedures. Creative thinking helps teens get their robot to do what they want it to do, even if that’s outside the programming it came with.Prepare your child for success: If you are looking for your child to learn to code, explore our live, teacher-led coding classes.
How Teens Can Learn Robotics
Teens can learn robotics in a variety of ways, depending on how they learn best. A combination of methods is often the best strategy to really master the foundations.
Dozens of books are available specifically for teaching teens about robotics. Some focus on the coding aspect of robotics, others are solely about the building process. There are even books about using the popular Raspberry Pi for building robots. Books can be a great starting point for learning about robotics before getting into actual building.
In-person classes let teens learn robotics with the help of an expert, these can be mechanical engineering classes or coding classes. There are national organizations that offer robotics classes for kids, many using LEGO bricks for construction. Classes are usually organized by age and experience level so you can choose the class that is best for your student.
Robotics is a popular topic for seasonal camps, whether they’re overnight camps or are only held during the day. This offers an immersive experience to really give your student the chance to master the fundamentals. Camps also offer the opportunity for students to learn how to problem solve and work with their peers. There are even virtual robotics camps available that can be taken from home.
Many districts offer after school robotics clubs where students work together to build a robot. Often these clubs are tied to competitions in the area. In these cases, students build robots to run a course as quickly as possible, do particular tasks, or both. Robotics clubs offer a great social outlet in addition to giving teens experience with building and coding robots.
Best Robotics Kits for Teenagers 13-18 Years Old
Robotics kits for 13 year olds focus on pieces that are easy to assemble and are often pre-programmed. Those that include coding instructions often use block-based programming languages that are easy for beginners.
- Kidwill 13-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit
- 4M Kidzlabs Robotic Hand Kit
- POKONBOY Building Blocks Robot Kit
- UBTECH Unicornbot Kit
Kidwill 13-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit
Teens definitely won’t get bored with this robot kit as it contains components to build 13 different robot toys. The kit contains a solar panel that can be installed on the top of each robot design to make it solar powered, or you can use a battery. The pieces are easy to assemble and robot designs are divided into Level 1 and Level 2, depending on your teen’s experience level.
4M Kidzlabs Robotic Hand Kit
This is a great introduction to robotic kits as no batteries or power are required and assembly is fairly simple. The finished robotic hand has movable fingers that grip realistically when cords are pulled. The simplicity of the assembly and affordable price make this an ideal starting point to see if your teen is interested in robot kits in general.
POKONBOY Building Blocks Robot Kit
Another robot kit that’s great for teens, you build this robot with plastic blocks that are similar to LEGOs. Once built, you can choose to control it with an app on your phone or with the included 2.4GHz controller. While the controller takes AAA batteries, the robot is rechargeable and comes with a charging cable. It’s also durable enough to take outside.
UBTECH Unicornbot Kit
Proof that robot kits can be cute, too! No tools are required to build this robot as all the pieces snap together. Animated building instructions make assembly easy to understand. The block-based programming language Blockly is used to be able to program the LED horn to display different colors. Download the Android or iOS app to control the robot once it’s built.
Robots for 14 year olds
Fourteen year olds can handle slightly more complex materials and instructions in robotics kits. Some of these kits also utilize a Raspberry Pi to operate, which many teens this age may already be familiar with.
- ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Smart Robot Car Kit
- SunFounder Smart Video Car Robot Kit
- Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Robot-Building Kit
- Freenove Robot Dog Kit
ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Smart Robot Car Kit
This Arduino-compatible kit includes parts to build a robot car with multiple programmable modes, including auto-go, infrared control, obstacle avoidance, and line tracking. The kit includes building and coding tutorials and does require basic electronics knowledge. Teens can also control the robot car via phone or tablet with an available app for Android and iOS.
SunFounder Smart Video Car Robot Kit
If your teen has a Raspberry Pi, this is the perfect robot kit to add on to it. The car is based on Raspberry Pi and is programmable with Python code that is provided. For teens who don’t have coding experience yet, you can also program the car using Dragit, a graphical interface. The app, which can be installed on a phone or tablet, controls the car and lets you see real-time images from the included USB camera.
Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Robot-Building Kit
With more than 1,000 parts and standing over 4 foot tall when fully assembled, this robot kit is ideal for teens who love to build. The finished robot has voice recognition and motorized head, arms, and feet. It also includes 3,000 pre-programmed phrases that it can say and is programmable with a smart device to change its behavior.
Freenove Robot Dog Kit
Another robot kit that utilizes the Raspberry Pi, this kit builds a walking robot dog. Programmable with included Python code, it can be controlled by a computer or Android or iOS device. Teens that don’t have any experience with coding or building other robots might need some help, but the instructions are detailed and walk you through the entire assembly process.
Robots for 15 year olds
Robotics kits for this age group feature more pieces, more motors, and more realistic movements that can be programmed. Several include tutorials for building multiple robots from the same kit.
- Yahboom Smart Robot Kit
- Freenove Hexapod Robot Kit with Remote
- LewanSoul Robotic Arm Kit
- Makeblock mBot Ultimate Robot Kit
Yahboom Smart Robot Kit
This smart robot features an open source platform and is programmed in C language. It’s a mini omnidirectional robot car with an ATmega328P chip as the processor. Plus it has an external WiFi camera with two remote control methods, an Android/iOS mobile app or a PS2 controller remote control. It requires basic electronic knowledge and will give kids hands-on experience about programming, electronics assembling, and robotics knowledge.
Freenove Hexapod Robot Kit with Remote
This robot kit may only have 6 legs, but it definitely looks like a robotic spider. Once built, the robot can be controlled by computer or an Android or iOS device to crawl and twist. A kit is also available that includes a remote control. Download the tutorials to walk you through building and programming the robot and in no time you’ll have a robot that moves just like a spider.
LewanSoul Robotic Arm Kit
Another robotic arm kit, but this one is Arduino-compatible and is definitely more complex. The all metal construction makes this very sturdy once built. The kit comes with 6 different servos to make the movement of the arm smooth and fluid. Control via the Android or iOS app (or a Windows computer) and see how much you can grab!
Makeblock mBot Ultimate Robot Kit
This kit can build 10 different robots all using the same easy-to-assemble pieces. Different configurations include a rolling tank, robotic ant, camera dolly, and catapult ram. Every robot is programmable either through block-based coding or you can use Arduino IDE, NodeJS, and Python. This flexibility makes this a great kit for all ability and experience levels.
Robots for 16-18 year olds
Older teens can really start to customize their robots. This includes adding custom code and modules to add additional functionality. From face recognition to voice commands, there’s a lot these robots can do.
- Yahboom Raspberry Pi Robotic Car Kit
- Petoi Bittle Robotic Dog
- ELEGOO Mega 2560 Ultimate Kit
Yahboom Raspberry Pi Robotic Car Kit
If your older teen already has a Raspberry Pi, this robot can do some really impressive tasks. Programmable with Python, this kit contains HD cameras for face, color, and object recognition. Although you can control the car with an Android or iOS app, it also comes with voice recognition and an autopilot feature.
Petoi Bittle Robotic Dog
Bittle fits in the palm of your hand, but can definitely do a lot of big tricks. Beginners to coding can program the robot with a block-based coding language. Teens who already know how to code can use C++ with Arduino or Python to send commands. Control Bittle through the included controller or the Android/iOS app to get him to move. You can also attach Arduino modules, such as a microphone or camera, for object or voice recognition.
ELEGOO Mega 2560 Ultimate Kit
With more than 200 pieces and a tutorial with 35 lessons, this is a great kit to introduce older teens to robot building and programming with Arduino. Besides the controller board and expansion board, this kit also includes more than 60 different components and sensors. More experienced robot builders can easily go beyond the projects included in the tutorials as well.
Have Fun and Learn Robotics for Teens
Teens who learn robotics have a head start on the future thanks to their experience with engineering, programming, and technology. So many careers today require or can benefit from experience with engineering and coding. Even if your teen doesn’t ultimately go into a STEM-related field, the problem solving skills they learn from robotics will help them throughout their lives.