Robotics for Kids
At Little Bytes of Pi, we are always looking for ways to get kids interested in learning how to program. One of the best ways we have found so far is robotics. With robotics, the results of your program move around in the physical world, so you can see the results of your if statements, for loops, and variable conditions with your own two eyes.
We are currently working with some different robotic toys to explore robotics programming using different languages.
Perhaps the easiest way to get started is with the Lego Mindstorm EV3 robotics kit. This kit comes with everything you need to build and program a robot, including motors and sensors. Because it is Lego, it is very easy for the kids to get started building some amazing creations.
The software included with the kit provides an easy to use graphical interface for writing programs to control your robot. It is very similar to the popular ‘Scratch’ software for programming. You simply drag different ‘blocks’ into your program area and connect them to make up standard computer instructions such as for loops, if statements, and variables.
What we like even more about Lego robotics, is that there are numerous different open source libraries enabling you to write control code for your robot in different languages.
We have written a simple control panel application for our robot using the C# language. This software runs on Windows or a Linux computer such as the Raspberry Pi, and allows you to control your robot from the computer, and drive it using an Xbox joystick.
You can find out more about programming the Lego EV3 in different languages on our Lego Mindstorms page.
You can learn more about programming the EV3 with the C# language, as well as get the link to the source code for our ev3 Control Panel application by visiting our Lego EV3 page.
WowWee makes interactive robotic toys such as the Robosapien and the Miopsaur.
Even though you do not build or change the WowWee robots, you can still use these toys to explore robotics programming. WowWee releases software development kits (SDKs) for all of their robotic toys. Using the WowWee SDKs, you can write your own control software.