Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on February 9, 2020
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a good book for adults to peruse for planning projects. Kids will need assistance, if not with building things, then definitely with getting parts to build things with.

This is a book with simple robotics projects. Projects build on one another, such that a later chapter will add components to what you built in an earlier chapter. Doing the projects does require some equipment and parts that aren't super technical, but that you would have to shop for and order before beginning. There is nothing you can do with exclusively standard school supplies and household goods. All this means is that in order to do the projects, you have to get parts, and if you are gifting to a child, then you need to do the homework and read through the book and provide parts, or be willing to check in regularly and assist getting parts. I suspect that the actual best audience is adults who are interested in education about robotics. By reading the book and looking at projects that build on one another, it can help to know what projects might be doable for younger kids.

The book has many robotics projects that each build on the last. I'm using the term "robotics" loosely, as is the author. You do simple things like wire a battery pack to a small LED lightbulb, and switch it on/off. Then then next project building on that is that you make a little sculpture of a robot with dixie cups, and make the robot have two LED lightbulb eyes that you turn on/off for a night light. And so on, and so on. There are a few broad sections to the book. Each one starts with something very simple, then builds on that to make things that look cool and do something.

This is a book that you probably want to prep for, and that you need to prep for if you are gifting to a child. You need specialized equipment to do these projects. It's nothing fancy - battery pack to hold a set of AA batteries, switches, a small motor, etc. It's stuff that if Radio Shack were still in business, you could just go and get the couple of things to get started on a section and you would be less than thirty dollars in parts to do several chapters of the book. However, Radio Shack has been out of business for a few years now, and so a lot of these really basic parts are now available only through delivery from online sellers. The book has an intro that talks about where to buy parts and recommends both Ada Fruit and Amazon as sources for parts. It lists a couple of stores, but those are specialty stores with a single location, so pretty much only gonna work if you are in Chicago and happen to be near the one location for the store. It may also be that if you connect with a maker space in your city that they will know where to buy parts or can confirm that parts are available online only. Anyway, if you are planning to get the book and blow through it for inspiration, then unless you already have a nice supply of basic parts, you will be waiting for something to arrive in the mail. Because of that, it's longer to read and work through. Also, if you are gifting to a child, you NEED to first comb through and identify parts, so that the child won't be frustrated and disappointed. Alternatively, you could schedule to check in with the child and shop online and order parts from time to time - like for a project, do one weekend planning and getting parts, then a weekend two weeks later doing the project. Since this is recommended for ages 5 to 10, that's an age where kids will not necessarily have money for parts, nor have the ability to navigate online shopping and payment. As a parent, many apps that allow parents to alot money to kids online are oriented around app stores and not being able to freely get objects.

I got this to do with my 6 year old son. So far, we have gone through and looked at projects and talked about them. He is artistic and liked that for many of these, you decorate the final "robot" so that it looks more like a character than a machine. The projects look doable for him working with an adult. I think it is like Legos, in that young children become progressively more able to do a set, and may just need someone nearby to help.

I am going to throw out, for the sake of getting parts, and doing similar projects, that the K'Nex Imagine series has little battery powered motors and stuff to make projects similar to this and the couple of K'Nex Imagine sets were good for raiding to try and get parts. Some sets will have a small motor run on AA batteries that can power a car made of K'Nex. The K'Nex series may be worth looking through for two reasons. First, if this book is interesting, then that series may be interesting. Second, it's not that much more expensive than purchasing a motor, and it's a name brand whereas trying to sift through reviews is not fast, and going through Adafruit may up the price just a scootch anyway. In other words, you can possibly get the specialty part needed for this book and get it from an established brand if you get a K'Nex kit with a motor.
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