The best coding kits are a way to take everything a student has learned about coding and turn that into real world results. This includes writing command lines on a device that results in corresponding actions from a real robot, which is a very exciting way to engage students with coding.
From small robots that move around balls to Harry Potter's wand, there are lots of options out there now. When deciding which robot kit is best for your class, keep in mind the type of coding you want to use as a factor in deciding which robots will work with that style.
Some coding kits allow students to also build the device itself, for example, Lego-based robots. This approach provides hands-on learning opportunities and gets students away from screen time during the coding process, and also allows them to work on block building – something that can be done in a group to promote social learning too.
Prices vary quite widely so keep that in mind when making a choice from this list of the very best coding kits out there right now.
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1. Sphero Mini: Best coding kit for programmable fun
The Sphero Mini is a golf ball-sized smart-controlled educational robot ball that can be moved using a connected smartphone. This is great for STEM learning as it allows the student to play games that require a form of programming.
Students can build real-world mazes, obstacles, and courses to be navigated by the Mini using its gyroscope, accelerometer, and motor encoders.
The Sperho Mini is recommended for ages 8+ and is charged, at time of publishing, at $49.99.
2. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit: Best for tablet and computer use
The Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit is a relatively affordable and fun way to get students involved in coding with a fantasy wizard theme. The kit comes with a wand, that needs to be built out of the box, making it educational from the start.
Kano has a large coding community, allowing for lots of inspiration. It also lets students see the code behind any creation, and then change it to create something new.
3. Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot: Best for screen-free coding
Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot by Learning Resources is a complete coding robotic kit that, brilliantly, does not require any screen time. This little robot looks fun but packs in some serious smarts with object detection, night vision, multi-colored light-up eye, programmable 45-degree turns, and a 150-step coding platform.
All this works through buttons on the bot itself, so no screens are needed, allowing students to get far more involved in the physical-world coding experience.
The set comes with 78 pieces to help students create mazes, navigate obstacle courses, and more. This is done using the six directional buttons, which remember up to 150 moves in a row.
4. Lego Mindstorms EV4 Robot Inventor 51515: Best for Python-based coding
The Lego Mindstorms EV4 Robot Inventor 51515 might be a mouthful of a name but when it comes to coding, it is an easy-to-handle setup. That's not to say there isn't complexity though, as students can get full-on Python- and Scratch-based coding experience by using this robot-building package.
This 5-in-1 set allows students to build five different robots using the myriad 949 parts available. Then, using the Lego Mindstorms app, they can code programs into that creation. Aimed at ages 10 and up, these robots can be programmed to walk, talk, and do more than the previous generations.
From a brick-eating truck that piles up bricks left by other robots to a dancer bot, there are five basic models to create and work with.
5. Logiblocs: Best for science-based coding
Logiblocs is an electronic coding system that lets students physically snap the Commands together to build a system. From alarms and door bells to spy tech and secret recorders, there are plenty of units to build and create.
This helps to teach students about circuitry and science while at the same time providing the basics for the building block-style of coding. These help to show students how the world of IT and beyond works, at a base level, in a fun and engaging way. What's more, it does all that without the need for a screen.
The Morse Code machine is particularly useful as it not only teaches students how to build the system but then also allows them to learn and work with Morse Code.
6. BinaryBots Totem Crab: Best affordable coding kit
The BinaryBots Totem Crab is a robot that can be built by students to learn how to wire and install systems in a basic machine. This can then be coded to move and carry out actions such as grabbing and clawing, using coding programming.
This is a great, affordable way to get students building and coding robots. While there is only one style of robot to be built here, that could also be seen as a positive as it keeps the build process simple, while the coding part remains open to creative input. A great choice for students who find too much freedom of choice overwhelming.
This works with a BBC micro:bit power and interface board for use with the BBC micro:bit mini computer system.