Rokit, by Robolink, is a versatile and affordable robotics kit that is great for all ages, because it comes pre-programmed with 12 personalities and can be built without soldering. While the kit is used for classrooms, its also great for individual families, clubs, and summer fun! Rokit is advertised as "12 in 1 educational robot" which is what first piqued my interest. And while there are 12 programed "behaviors" in the smart board, you children can make WAY more than 12 robots.
My boys (ages 8 and 4) did not know the kit was coming, and oh were they excited. Our first goal was orient ourselves to the pieces within the kit. We were to excited, and forgot to take a photo of the kit when it first arrived, but here is a video that shows what all comes with it. The key components are the two DC motors (to move the wheels), the smart board, baseboards, battery holder, metal frames, remote control, screwdriver, torque wrench, and assorted nuts and bolts.
As a family with ZERO experience in robotics, and a son who has no patience for reading, the directions (that you can view here on Rokit's Curriculum page) was a mix between assembling a product from Ikea, and directions from a Lego kit. And so assembly began.
We started with the Mouse Bot, or the Obstacle Avoidance Bot. This bot is able to sense when it is about to bump into something and then turn. The smart board has sensers in the center and in the left and right corners. You also use these to select which program you want to use for each particular robot.
The smart board has 12 preset personalities. These settings allow you to build robots that can avoid obstacles, follow a line, sense light, grip, and sense motion. Here's the great news, you don't have to know a thing about robots for this to be fun. We kept things real low key, and I kept reminding my 8 year old, Caleb, that making mistakes was part of the engineering process. If he built a robot, and something didn't work, he just needed to evaluate what was wrong, and find possible solutions to the problem. I wanted to keep his first exposure to robotics a positive one, and to keep frustration low. It worked. Weeks later, he still enjoys time with the Rokit Smart.