So the kids are home. And, with schools closed basically everywhere, it looks like that may well be the case for at least the next few weeks. It’s a blessing and a curse, all rolled into one.
So now what? There are only so many hours you can turn them loose on Netflix and Playstation before you start feeling like a crummy parent. Instead, get them working on fun projects they’ll actually enjoy. You don’t have to tell ‘em they’re educational. Or that the fun will set them up for a STEM career.
To the kids, these DIY tools and projects will just be 100 percent fun. We won’t tell ‘em it’s good for ‘em if you don’t. And to top it off, you can take an extra 15 percent off your total by entering the code SPRINGSAVE15 during checkout.
Basic electronics are the start for many burgeoning scientific minds, and the Circuit Scribe: DIY Circuit Kits ($28.04 after discount code; originally $58.99) offers the building blocks for deeper exploration. By putting plain printer paper over a steel sheet, kids can map out basic circuits to create blinking lights, beeping buzzers, and whirling motors.
Of course, electronics and coding go hand in hand, so the DIY Coding Kit for Ages 8 to 12 ($67.95 after discount code; originally $99) is the perfect introduction for that discipline as kids grasp the basic fundamentals of programming to build a handful of sample projects.
The Crowtail Starter Kit For Micro:bit 2.0 ($76.49 after discount code; originally $89) takes the learning further, using a pocket-sized computer to create sensors, control lights and build small objects from robots to musical instruments with almost no coding knowledge.
Build a robot
Once kids understand the basics of circuits and programming, trying to build a robot of their own can’t be far behind. With the DIY Robot Curiosity Kit for Ages 8 to 10 ($84.95 after discount code; originally $119), any inquisitive kid can start unlocking the basics of robotics, and they’ll also have access to an accompanying app to offer extra guidance in these formative projects.
That sets the stage for the SunFounder Nano DIY 4-DOF Robot Kit ($39.90 after discount code; originally $59.99) with components like a SunFounder Nano board or an Arduino board to start constructing a unique robot of a child’s own. The kit even includes a pair of robot legs that kids can program to walk, kick, or even dance.
Since every R2-D2 needs a C-3PO, the robot creations can continue with the SunFounder Robotic Arm Edge Kit for Arduino ($46.74 after discount code; originally $69.99). With the open-source MCU Arduino UNO and a servo expansion board, kids can control the four axes of the arm, make them move with a computer, memorize those movements, then repeat them over and over.
Finally, show us a kid who DOESN’T want their own DIY Bionic Robot Lizard ($46.70 after discount code; originally $65.99), including all the pieces to craft your mini Godzilla, program its movements, change its gestures and make it act just like the real thing.
Build your own phone…and a Gameboy…and more
Robots are undeniably awesome, but they only scratch the surface of what’s possible. With the help of a single board, kids can assemble the Arduino Automatic Smart Plant Watering Kit 2.0 ($59.49 after discount code; originally $69.99) and control when and how often the robot services the fauna.
Plant watering is fun and all, but what kid wouldn’t want to build their own handheld video game device? With the MAKERbuino Educational DIY Game Console (Standard Kit) ($59.49 after discount code; originally $69.99), that’s the mission. With just five hours of work assembling, kids can be playing a working, fully customizable game device.
The Crowtail NodeMCU Internet of Things Kit ($76.49 after discount code; originally $89.99) doesn’t focus on building one cool piece of tech. Its chock-full guide book includes detailed lessons to build all kinds of neat stuff from various sensors to a rainbow light to a functioning laser pointer.
If you’re tired of your kid asking to use your phone, the Ringo DIY Mobile Phone Kit + Tools ($152.95 after discount code; originally $194.99) is your chance to tell them to go build their own. Yep, by sticking to the directions, this kit comes with all the parts to construct a mobile phone that can support calls and texts, play games and work on virtually any of the popular mobile networks worldwide.
And while a kid may not be demanding their own Tesla coil, the TinyTesla Musical Tesla Coil Kit ($168.25 after discount code; originally $229.99) lets them create one of the most visually gripping musical instruments you’ve ever seen.
The Raspberry Pi is one of the most powerful DIY electronics components out there these days. And with the Elecrow Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit ($92.64 after discount code; originally $108), kids will have a thorough guide to everything this single-board mini-computer can do. This kit includes a Pi 3B+, an LCD touchscreen, WiFi adapter and other components to craft a working computer with internet access and a galaxy of amazing new project options.
For the next step in Pi knowledge, the Kickstarter-created CrowPi Raspberry Pi Accessory Kit ($187.84 after discount code; originally $239) is a full-service Pi collection that can get a kid rolling in a million new directions. There’s a motor, buttons and a bunch of extra pieces (even a camera) to not only build all kinds of Raspberry Pi hybrid devices, but start exploring the world of Python programming, one of the cornerstones of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
It’s already been around for a few years, but the magic of 3D printing is only just now starting to filter its way to the general public. So, there’s no better time to get your kid on board.
The SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer Starter Bundle ($254.95 after discount code; originally $396) is a great introductory printer for a young creator. A user-friendly desktop unit, SparkMaker comes with five different resins to complete all types of 3D printing projects. Just download a design online to an SD card, pop the card into the printer, push the button and watch your object starting springing to life.
The 3Doodler is the perfect kid-version of a 3D printer. This tool uses heated plastic that hardens in seconds, allowing you to quite literally draw in the air. The 3Doodler comes in two models: the kid-friendly Start ($42.45 after discount code; originally $49.99) and the more advanced Create+ ($67.95 after discount; originally $79.99).
Each variety also comes as part of a more expansive Start Mega 3D Printing Pen Set ($84.95 after discount code; originally $99.99) or a Create+ Master Creator 3D Pen Set ($127.45 after discount code; originally $149.99), including extra plastic, additional shaping tools and project books to take full advantage of the 3Doodler’s power.
Just like the 3Doodler, the DIY Robotic Art Kit for Ages 6 to 9 ($42.45 after discount code; originally $69) straddles the line between tech and art as kids find the intersections between science, robotics and free expression.
And for every project where you know glue just won’t be enough, this Bondic starter kit ($12.74 after discount code; originally $24.99) has your back. Bondic is actually a liquid plastic that hardens under UV light, so you can craft and shape it to repair or even replace broken or missing pieces, then set it with the light to work as good as new again.
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