STEM Skills targeted: Robotics, programming
Recommended Age: 8+
When I was at school in the ‘80s, I have a vague memory of the class using some kind of turtle robot that could be programmed to move in a path of your choosing. Ozobot reminds me of that little turtle, souped up and updated for the 21st century.
While the basic principle is the same, the Ozobot Bit is way more sophisticated than these first basic programming toys and is a lot easier to use too. Back in the 1980s, programmable toys and even computers were way too complex, expensive and hard to use for most families to have in the home but now with toys like Ozobot Bit, every child can learn the fun of programming from home.
Ozobot Bit is a fun programmable robot with a range of movement and various different colored LED lights. It’s super-easy to program with drag-and-drop blocks of code and there are also free apps available enabling you to play games with the robot.
I was surprised when I first saw this robot at just how small it is. It’s actually very cute! For some reason robots always seem to be big and clunky so the fact that this little robot is smaller than a golf ball makes it a fun novelty and also a lot easy to store and transport.
One of the cleverest things about Ozobot is that it can see colors and lines drawn on a piece of paper – draw a path and Ozobot Bit will follow it. You can actually ‘draw’ code on paper instead of writing it on screen. You can also transfer programs you’ve written to Ozobot by simply holdng it up to the screen so it can ‘read’ the flashing lights that tell it what to do.
I think this unique method of programming could really help visual thinkers and kids who are more creative and artistic than math and science minded to get into coding. You literally color the code, for example a blue dot followed by a red dot and then green instructs Ozobot to turn right. As well as direction, these color codes can control speed, set timers, or trigger a special move.
The Ozobot website contains some fun printable games for use with Ozobot that will help inspire you to create your own programs. There are also STEM lesson plans (or as they call them STREAM – with the addition of robotics and art) to download from the website.
The Ozobot Bit 2 comes in 2 different colors: black or crystal (clear transparent plastic). Or you can go for the dual pack that contains one of each. Having two also allows for additional games and fun (for example you can race them through a maze).