The LittleBits Gizmos & Gadgets Kit may be the easiest-to-use robot construction set currently on the market. The parts are color-coded and snap together magnetically, so there's no need for a soldering iron or even a screwdriver when kids as young as 8 years old assemble any kind of bot they can imagine. And if their imaginations run dry, the free smartphone app allows young inventors to peruse a catalog of automatons designed by other LittleBits users. The set of parts is expandable, so expect to pay extra for the pieces your kids need as their ambitions (and their bots) become larger and larger.
Instructions for building 12 different robotic projects come with the kit. The kit itself consists of five different types of "bits": power units (colored blue), input circuits (red), wiring (orange), output (green) and accessories (purple). All of these parts come in a neatly compartmentalized tray and are instantly identifiable by color. There are also Bluetooth blocks, so that your kids' robot inventions can be remotely controlled. The color-coded parts include cooling fans, light sensors, dimmers, wheels, splitters, transmitters, receivers, and buzzers, all of which can be placed on a flat, plastic breadboard reminiscent of the circuit boards computer hobbyists have been using since at least the 1970s. (Though note that one young online reviewer complains that it's difficult to get the assembled bits mounted properly on the board; fortunately, the assemblies work even when they're not mounted.)
What kind of robotic devices can you put together with these parts? Everything from a remote-activated doorbell to driveable botmobiles to spaceships (though the spaceships' thrusters only blow bubbles, so your kids won't be launching the cat into orbit anytime soon). The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is intended to give your kids a basic STEM -- Science, Technology, Electronics and Mathematics -- education and it seems to include all the necessary tools to do just that. LittleBits provides additional materials to show teachers how to utilize the kits in a classroom environment, but you can get started at home.
Also check out LittleBits' Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit, which will let your kits use Boolean circuitry to create an artificially intelligent bot brain. For another fun-to-use STEM inventors kit, see the Tenergy Odev Tomo.
The bits cannot be attached to the mounting board, meaning the builds will not hold together at all. And support from the company has not been helpful.
The instructions are super easy for kids to follow and the littlebits website has some great project ideas, too. It's interactive, creative, and tactile.
At least 12 gadgets can be made...There’s even instructions to build a spy box that holds a secret compartment secured with wireless littleBits and a servo.
The product comes with a LEGO-style board that can hold the littleBits modules...comes with 15 different electronic parts and a bunch of extra parts like wheels and stickers.
Trying to use the plates to snap the parts into was a nightmare...Great toy if the plates did what they were intended to do.
The mounting board do not connect well with the bits...Still is a good tool to use with kids to teach them about circuits and components.
Loads of useful, functional components. Plenty of accessories to build with. Helpful projects guide included. Wireless receiver and transmitter worked well.
The included booklet has 10 projects that eventually use every component in the kit. They're kid-friendly and playful.
It is essentially an electronics kit for children, but it demands focus and imagination, managing to combine elements of science, technology, and math with artistic creation.
Interest in technology isn’t really a prerequisite...unlikely to appeal to everyone. To really get the most out of it they’ll need some supervision, enthusiasm, and patience.