If your child is interested in STEM (or if you are, and you wish they were more interested ?), some great robotics kits are available online. They will encourage your tween to early teen to learn through play. We’ve selected 7 of the best robotics kits for middle school students.
These robot kits are the perfect gift or rainy day activity to inspire learning and cultivate knowledge. Both girls and boys today have highly lucrative career options ahead of them, designing and building robots. Using STEM-related toys with your child encourages them to think analytically, problem solve, create, and have a fun time while playing. For middle school students aspiring to be one of those engineers, these robotics kits are a fantastic way to foster that love.
After a detailed study, our pick of the bunch is the LEGO Boost kit. It’s such a great STEM toy for any child! However, every child is different. And every parent has various constraints! So, read on for our list of the top five robotics kits on the market for your middle school student.
- 7 Robot Kits for Middle School Students Reviewed
- Best Overall – LEGO Boost Robot Building Set
- Best Programmable Robot – LEGO Mindstorms 51515 Robot Inventor Kit
- Best Budget Option – 4M Tin Can Robot
- Best Solar Robot – Sillbird 12-in-1 Solar Robot Toy
- Best for Total Newbies – 4M Table Top Robot
- Best for Basic Programming – UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot
- Best for Outside – 4M Green Science Solar Robot Kit
- What to Consider When Buying Robotics Kits for Middle School Students
- Frequently Asked Questions
7 Robot Kits for Middle School Students Reviewed
Best Overall – LEGO Boost Robot Building Set
The first robotics kit on our list comes from the educational toy powerhouse, LEGO. The Boost Creative Toolbox Robot Building Set and Educational Coding Kit allows your child to build and rebuild almost any robot their heart desires.
The LEGO Boost kit also introduces coding into the picture, which is a crucial skill for young robotics engineers.
This award winning toy comes with an app to download onto a phone or tablet. That will keep the fun and learning going once the robot is up. There are so many things the robot can do, such as interact with you and even dance! Don’t you just love an open-ended toy that expands creativity?!
Note that this building and coding kit advertises 7-12 age. However, that is just an approximation. Tweens and teens will be able to flesh out the toy’s full potential. In fact, I’ve known many an adult (myself included) who have had a blast playing with LEGO Boost. LEGO robotics kits for middle schoolers will therefore work equally well with any other age!
Best Programmable Robot – LEGO Mindstorms 51515 Robot Inventor Kit
After seven years of waiting, the new LEGO Mindstorms 51515 iteration is up and running!
And it’s hands down the most formidable robot kit this year. With nearly 1,000 pieces, the kit includes in-app instructions for building five robots. There’s Blast, a missile-firing humanoid robot; two cute little bots Charlie and Tricky. You’ll also get to make the powerful M.V.P. and Gelo that walks on four legs. All of them are customizable and expandable, with detachable robotic accessories.
LEGO never disappoints when it comes to sensors. This kit includes color, distance, gyro, and Bluetooth sensors. Kids can remotely control the robots via the Scratch based app. Once they boost their coding skills, they can ditch the remote control. It’s possible to automate many functions fully!
However, 51515's greatest asset is its sophisticated and powerful coding environment. Beginners can use Scratch programming language, which is block based, visual, and easy to grasp. Once they master it, they can enter the never-ending world of full-blown computer science with the line based Python.
Like all the previous Mindstorms editions, the 51515 is excellent for teaching robotics in the classroom and at home. If you can’t decide between Boost and this Mindstorms edition, check out our in-depth comparison!
Best Budget Option – 4M Tin Can Robot
Our next robot kit for the junior high school student is the 4M Tin Can Robot. All you need to provide is an empty can, and the fun can begin! Not only is the final product adorable, but it also helps teach about recycling.
It’s one of those robotic kits suitable for even younger kids. But we feel that it also makes for a fun and inexpensive project for middle school students. Making this robot can inspire your son or daughter to think outside the box about designing other robots from recycled materials.
It is also customizable, so there are plenty of opportunities to make the tin can robot uniquely their own. Furthermore, children need zero experience to begin, as there are in-depth instructions to handhold them along the way!
Best Solar Robot – Sillbird 12-in-1 Solar Robot Toy
Who says that propper robotics kits for kids have to cost hundreds of bucks? Say hello to the fun and very affordable 12-in-1 Education Solar Robot Toy from Sillbird.
This kit allows your child to create twelve unique robots with just a single kit. It provides hours of entertainment for a great price – ideal for beginner robotics enthusiasts! We recommend this kit from early middle school. However, each robot has a different level of complexity, so it grows with your child’s ability.
This kit is also solar-powered, which will add another layer of science to the experience. They will learn more about robotics while exploring renewable energy sources, which is a hot topic today. The kit comes with guides for each robot. But with 190 pieces, your child could also design variations on the robots. With a bit of imagination, they’ll be able to think of many tweaks and options!
Note that there is a newer model of this product. However, we still prefer the old one as it employs more sophisticated mechanics. Gears, screws, and bolts are so much fun! Plus, it offers more room for growth. But if your kid is into space robot aesthetics, feel free to consider the newer model too!
Best for Total Newbies – 4M Table Top Robot
Not all kids will have a penchant for complex tasks that take hours and hours of play to get them right. That’s why there are straightforward robotic kits such as the 4M Table Top Robot. It’s a silly little robot crab that can scuttle across the table, avoiding obstacles. It won’t fall off the tabletop either!
It won’t take more than an hour or two to assemble the crab. With an AAA battery, you’ve got all it takes to get it moving! There’s no coding involved. And it doesn’t have to be a downside. Not everybody is a coding enthusiast! With this toy, children will get their share of hands on engineering. If they like it, you can always raise the game to another level with a more complex toy.
Best for Basic Programming – UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot
The 387-piece UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot will provide weeks of fun, hands on STEM education to your middle-schooler. They can build it using the free JIMU app with 3D instructions.
The engineering part is much more advanced than the cheaper options from our list offer. The components include an infrared sensor and five servo motors for smooth moving. Once the kid assembles it, the coding fun begins! They can use Blockly programming language to teach the bot various behaviors. And then, they can remote control it from the app. If you don’t want to break the bank with LEGO robots, this one offers excellent value for the money.
Like all superb STEM and robotic kits, this one also offers virtually inexhaustible possibilities. There are three different robots – AstroBot, Rover, and Astron. But your little inventor can come up with entirely new ideas.
JIMU is one of the leaders in the robotic toys industry. Make sure to check their other robot kits too!
Best for Outside – 4M Green Science Solar Robot Kit
The seventh and final product on our list of the best robotics kits for junior high school kids is the Green Science Solar Robot Kit, also from 4M. This robot can be taught how to perform simple tasks and is an ideal tool for teaching real-world robotics applications.
Once assembled, this robot walks and moves using solar power. Not only is this impressive, but green, renewable energy sources are a hot topic in the STEM community. We’ll be relying on this younger generation to continue developing better sustainable energy options into the future! That’s why it’s good to introduce them to solar robots early on.
Note, however, that this robot will not work as well if it’s not a sunny day. So, if you live in a cloudy area, it’s probably wise to make another choice.
What to Consider When Buying Robotics Kits for Middle School Students
Are You Buying a Toy for the Classroom or Living Room?
If you’re a teacher, it’s probably wise to look for green robotic toys that will promote coding skills, engineering, as well as sustainable living. It’s always advisable to aim toward a well-rounded curriculum that tackles as many STEM disciplines as possible.
Parents, however, should go for more personalized toys. It’s always important to keep in mind your kid’s personal interests. Nowadays, there are robotic dinosaurs, space vehicles, construction vehicles, arms, humanoids, and more.
The Capacity for Open-Ended Learning
Good toys will provide hours and hours of play. Great toys, however, will enchant you with versatility and endless possibilities! Hence their immense appeal to all ages.
When choosing STEM kits for 11-13 old kids, it’s essential to keep in mind that these kids are not easy to impress. They are already entering puberty, which means they may appear averse to toys. Who’s to explain to them that adulthood is not as fun as it might appear to a kid?
That’s why it’s crucial to offer them dynamic and exciting toys that will keep them interested for weeks or even months.
Online Or Offline?
Toys for coding and programming will naturally require a smartphone or a computer. Unfortunately, it translates even more screen time for your tween or teen who is glued to the phone as it is. A silver lining is that they’ll at least use this screen time for learning instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
However, if you really want to cut down on their screen time, you should opt for toys with printed instructions. Granted, online instructions are often much more intuitive. But it doesn’t hurt to scratch your head once in a while and try to solve a problem on your own!
But what if you want to reduce the screen time to an absolute minimum? As we saw above, some options focus on mechanical and electrical engineering. No coding skills necessary!
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age should you start robotics?
As early as possible! Not all robotics toys feature complex coding, engineering, or programming. Most of the good ones will go step by step. Education yields excellent results when served in small bites!
Therefore, the right age to start learning robotics is not set in stone. It will vary from kid to kid, depending on their personal preferences. Some children may be into arts or music and not very prone to science technology engineering and math. That’s completely fine. But it’s up to you to offer them some of the best STEM toys too.
What are the 3 types of robots?
There are certainly more than three types of robots. The most common and widely used are flying robots (e.g., drones), medical robots, and robot systems for education like the ones we listed above. Your Roomba vacuum belongs to the field of consumer robotics. The autonomous vehicle your kid will be driving in a few years is also a type of robot!
That’s all the more reason to introduce them to robotics early on. Robotics will permeate every area of our lives!
Why educational robotics?
Robotics is a fast-paced, ever-growing field with a wide variety of jobs available. During middle school, there is an opportunity for kids to start exploring their pre-vocational interests more deeply.
It might be too early to focus heavily on the future and what kind of career your child wants to have. However, you often sow the seeds for lifelong interests at this age. Exposing them to educational and enjoyable activities can help them find their passion and facilitate a conversation about that. Also, putting things together, seeing how the mechanics work, and watching your robot come to life is super fun at any age!
What are programmable robots?
A programmable robot is a robot that you can program for many different behaviors. In other words, it is customizable if you have good programming skills! For example, you may program your robot to avoid obstacles, speak, find a path, or follow directions. With more complex systems, you can even completely automate them. That’s the power and beauty of robotics and STEM in general!
Last update on 2021-02-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API