Robotics for Сhildren: What is Useful and Where to Study

Robotics is becoming an increasingly popular activity for children of all ages. More parents and educators are recognizing the many benefits of introducing robotics to kids, including improved STEM skills, creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities. Robotics gives kids hands-on learning opportunities and allows them to apply concepts they are learning in science, math, and technology. In recent years, many new robotics programs and kits have been developed to make robotics more accessible and engaging for children. This article will explore the usefulness of robotics for kids of different ages, the types of activities well-suited for their developmental levels, competitions and events for youth robotics, and the various programs, classes and affordable kits available.

Benefits of Robotics for Children

Experts agree that the hands-on learning and real-world applications involved in robotics offer many unique benefits for children. Some key advantages include:

  • Improved STEM skills – Building and programming robots reinforces science, technology, engineering and math concepts. Kids apply their knowledge to solve real problems.
  • Creativity – Designing, constructing and coding robots requires kids to think creatively and use their imaginations.
  • Teamwork – Most robotics activities involve working in groups to achieve a shared goal, building teamwork.
  • Problem-solving – Robotics is project-based learning that teaches critical thinking, troubleshooting and perseverance.
  • Engagement – Interactive robotics taps into kids’ interests and natural curiosity. Robotics can help engage kids who may otherwise lack interest in STEM fields.
  • Preparation for future jobs – Robotics provides early exposure to growing career fields involving engineering, electronics, programming and more.
  • Builds life skills – Skills like communication, collaboration and presentation skills are strengthened through robotics activities with shared objectives.

Types of Robotics Activities for Different Age Groups

The ideal robotics activities will be age-appropriate for the developmental abilities of children. Some types of robotics activities that are well-suited for different age groups include:

  • Preschoolers (ages 3-5) – Simple block and cube robots, behavior-mimicking robots, robot-themed arts and crafts.
  • Elementary School (ages 6-10) – More complex buildable robots, introductory coding and programming, modified tasks for robotics competitions.
  • Middle School (ages 11-14) – Advanced construction robots, intermediate coding skills, unmodified competitive robotics contests.

Robotics for Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

For very young kids, the goal should be generating interest and having fun while introducing basic concepts. Simple programmable toy robots can allow kids to learn cause and effect relationships and logical thinking. Manipulating parts and seeing the robots move in response helps develop fine motor skills. Creative play-based activities are ideal, like building a “robot” from blocks, boxes and craft materials, or putting on a play where kids imagine being robots. Books and screen media with fun robot characters also spark interest at this age. The simplest starter robot kits are appropriate, but only with close parental supervision and more focus on the creative play than the end product.

Robotics for Elementary School (Ages 6-10) 

Once in elementary school, kids can start learning the foundations of robot construction and programming that will prepare them for more complex work. Pre-designed buildable robots allow kids to experience the excitement of bringing a robot to life without getting bogged down in the mechanics. After assembly, kids can start learning to program their robot’s movements and responses. Starter kits like Lego Mindstorms provide an introductory coding environment using block-based drag-and-drop programming, allowing kids to get comfortable with cause-and-effect relationships and logical sequences. This age can participate in competitions like First Lego League Challenge, completing simplified missions focused on creative problem solving. The key is providing ample guidance and keeping activities engaging and within their skill level.

Robotics for Middle School (Ages 11-13)

In middle school, as cognitive abilities advance, students are ready for more sophisticated robotics studies involving more intricate computer programming. Autonomous robots that can sense environments and self-navigate are now within reach. Kids can apply higher-level coding like Arduino C++ to coordinate complex movements and actions in response to sensor input. Student-directed projects let kids exercise creative autonomy while learning key STEM and programming concepts. Groups can now participate in the full First Tech Challenge, designing, building, coding and competing with robots of their own creation to complete specified missions. The advanced problem-solving and teamwork is great preparation for future academic and career pathways. With guidance, robotics projects can be tailored for varying skill levels at this age.

Robotics Competitions for Kids

One exciting way for kids to get involved with robotics is through competitions designed just for youth and school-aged participants. Some popular national competitions include:

  • First Lego League Jr. (ages 6-10) – uses Legos to expose kids to challenges related to a real-world theme.
  • First Lego League Challenge (ages 9-14) – teams construct and program Lego-based robots and develop solutions for missions with an annual theme. 
  • First Tech Challenge (ages 12-18) – middle and high school teams build robots from kits and program autonomous functionality.
  • BEST Robotics (ages 12-18) – focuses on brainstorming, designing/building and testing robots along with presenting marketing materials.
  • VEX Robotics Competition (ages 11-19) – designs and builds competitive robots to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge.

These competitions encourage the full engineering design process while emphasizing teamwork, innovation, presentation and problem-solving skills. Most local and regional competitions need volunteer judges and mentors.

Finding Robotics Programs and Classes

robotics for children

Robotics classes, clubs and camps have expanded in many school and community settings. Here are some places to find structured robotics programs for kids:

  • Public & private schools – Some elementary, middle and high schools now offer robotics as elective courses or after-school programs.
  • Museums & science centers – Hands-on sessions, classes and camps are often available through children’s museums and youth science centers.
  • Community youth centers – Check with local youth clubs, YMCA’s, libraries and community centers for robotics offerings.
  • Colleges/universities – University engineering schools sometimes have youth robotics outreach events or summer camps.
  • Robotics leagues – Programs like FIRST Robotics can help kids find local teams and resources.
  • Private instruction – Seek tutoring or lessons from specialized STEM/robotics education providers.
  • Online programs – Some interactive online classes allow youth to learn remotely through virtual robot simulators.

Online Robotics Resources for Children

Even kids who don’t have access to local robotics programs can start exploring concepts online. Helpful online resources include:

  • Hour of Code – Entry-level tutorials introduce programming fundamentals applicable to robotics.
  • Tynker – Creative programming games and guided tutorials make coding accessible for kids.
  • Khan Academy – The computing section offers coding instruction suitable for the K-12 level.
  • – Nonprofit provides standards-aligned computer science curriculum with robotics connections.
  • Scratch – MIT’s block/text programming environment allows kids to animate interactive stories and games. 
  • VEXcode VR – Free simulator lets kids program virtual VEX robots using block-based coding.
  • FIRST Lego League – Provides information, curriculum materials, and robot simulator for ages 4-16.

Online tools allow kids to gain coding and problem-solving skills on their own schedule, supplemented by guidance from parents, teachers or peers.

Affordable Robotics Kits for Home Use

Advanced robotics labs are not required to integrate age-appropriate robotics. Many affordable kits are available for home use:

  • LEGO Mindstorms – Most versatile introductory robotics kit for ages 10+ with sensors, motors, and supporting curriculum.
  • VEX Robotics – Provides versatile metal/plastic robot construction components and curriculum for ages 11+.
  • Sphero – App-enabled spherical robots can be programmed using block-based coding optimized for novice users.
  • Osmo Coding – iPad-compatible game system has kids arrange physical blocks to control on-screen robots.
  • Botley the Coding Robot – Screen-free kit for kids 5+ that teaches coding concepts through sequences of physical button pushes.
  • Root Robotics – CoderZ introduces real-world programming for ages 4-10 through intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces.
  • KIBO Robot Kit – Screen-free wooden robot designed for preschool/kindergarten students starting at age 4.

Consistent with school learning, home robotics projects should involve ample guidance from parents or caregivers.

Safety Tips for Kids Doing Robotics

While robotics offers many benefits, keeping some safety tips in mind will allow kids to explore hands-on learning safely:

  • Supervise young kids closely to avoid improperly swallowing/handling small parts.
  • Cover sharp edges and points on moving parts.
  • Make sure robotic components are age-appropriate and sturdy enough
  • Follow all recommended ages for kits and tools, only allowing usage under adult supervision.
  • Enforce hand washing before and after building robots to avoid infections.
  • Explain general electrical safety – no sticking items into outlets, properly handling batteries/chargers.
  • Do not mix incompatible pieces from different kits. Use components only as instructed.  
  • Store robotics tools and parts neatly in a secure container when not in use.
  • Remind kids to be careful handling robots near other people to avoid injuries.
  • Emphasize that real, functional robots require diligent work and are not toys. 
  • Monitor time spent on robotics and take breaks to avoid eye strain.

With preparatory lessons in safety, kids can build key STEM and problem-solving abilities through educational robotics activities.


Robotics provides the perfect bridge between imaginative play and hands-on learning for children and teens. The right introduction sparks a passion for STEM and technology fields while building critical thinking and teamwork skills. Today’s savvy parents and educators have more options than ever for integrating developmentally appropriate robotics into young people’s academic, social and extracurricular activities. From creative preschool activities all the way up to competitive high school robotics leagues, there are now many pathways for nourishing budding young innovators in a systematic way. With proper guidance and supervision, virtually all children can experience the engagements and satisfactions of bringing a robot to life. Structured appropriately for their evolving capacities, growing up along with robots provides unlimited possibilities.

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