electronics cube

Becoming the Next Elon Musk: Robotics Projects for Kids

Lily Dodge Education

Who doesn’t dream of being able to create awesome robots that can obey your every command? From Tony Stark’s sleek workshop in The Avengers to the helpful household robots in The Jetsons, robotics have captured our imagination for generations.

Fortunately for us living in the 21st century, robots are no longer science fiction – there are real people doing groundbreaking work in this fast growing field. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has inspired adults and kids all over the world with his high-tech cars, spaceships, and other STEM projects.

Now, with Thimble’s robotics box, you don’t have to be a billionaire, or even a grownup, to change the world with the power of robotics! Thimble encourages all young people to find their own inner “Elon Musk” with our educational kits and robotics projects for kids.

girl learning how to code on laptop

Robotics projects provide a sense of agency

Young people, from toddlers to teenagers, all crave a sense of agency – the ability to control the world around them, and to see the influences of their actions. As children grow older, they learn about cause and effect, and about how their choices and behaviors can affect an outcome.

Let’s face it – kids don’t have much power in our world. Elementary schoolers don’t get to choose their teachers or their classrooms. Teenagers don’t get to set their own rules. No wonder they dream of being like Elon Musk, who leads a massive empire of STEM businesses! Interest in robotics programs is increasing among young people who see them as opportunities to control and affect the world around them.

Fortunately, robotics classes can provide kids of all ages the ability to become leaders in their own way, boosting their sense of agency by giving them something they can control and use to influence their environment.

According to roboticist Anca Dragan of UC Berkeley, “a robot is a physically embodied artificially intelligent agent that can take actions that have effects on the physical world.” Robots allow kids to engaging with technology that lets them take full control of their environment, which is both empowering and educational.

Thimble.io’s Robot Friend puts kids in control

Just like SpaceX revolutionized space travel and Tesla changed the way we think about cars, anything you build with our robotics box can have a real impact on your world!

Thimble’s robotics projects for kids connect to other devices, like tablets or computers, using basic computer programming. For today’s kids, things like the internet and smartphones are massive parts of life, so a WiFi-enabled robotics box really lets them impact their world.

The very first STEM kit for kids included in a Thimble.io subscription is our Creator Set, which involves a “Robot Friend” project kids can use to make their very own robot that can do specific tasks like moving its arm.

When kids build their Robot Friend, they’ll construct a moving arm that connects to a WiFi enabled Arduino board. They can then make this arm move back and forth by changing the input to the Arduino board – in this case, by waving their hands over a light sensor. They can also change the speed at which the arm moves!

Using this kind of “input and output” system not only teaches the basics of engineering concepts like computer programming, but it also gives kids a clear understanding of the way they can use technology to make changes to their environment and solve real-world problems.

Robotics projects help kids learn

kids coding their robotics projects at Pinhead Institute - a Smithsonian affiliate

A sense of agency isn’t the only thing kids need to succeed in the 21st century. Academic and professional success require emotional and intellectual strengths, which robotics classes can help young kids start to build. For example, in order to successfully build robots, students also need to develop skills like inquiry, time management, and collaboration, among others.

Robotics classes for kids are an excellent way to provide these critical cognitive challenges. The very nature of a robotics kit allows for inquiry and problem solving, and working on a robotics kit with siblings or peers teaches communication skills and collaboration.

Studies show that robotics classes for kids can improve creative thinking, problem solving, and even social skills! By the end of each robotics class, all students will have boosted their skills in a variety of areas that can help them thrive.

Thimble.io’s robotics projects teach important skills

If you student is especially excited to dive into robotics classes, check out Thimble’s other online courses, such as our WiFi Robot, Robotics & Mechatronics. This higher level robotics class follows our 101 level course, and builds on the lessons and techniques outlined there.

TH 201: Robotics & Mechatronics teaches students some fundamental theory of robotics and electronics, modeling methods, and practical applications of robotics and mechatronics. Students in this robotics class will also learn their way around hardware components and interfacing requirements. As they learn to program robots, students will develop a deeper understanding of computer science and computer programming concepts they can apply to real-world challenges.

STEM classes for kids have been shown to teach important life skills, such as patience, creative problem solving, curiosity, and soft skills required to work well with others. All of these skills are transferable, meaning that your student can apply what they learn in our robotics classes to other academic areas and life challenges.

Robotics projects for anyone

Getting started with a robotics project can feel overwhelming for many kids, but thanks to our robotics classes for kids, anyone at any skill level can jump into the exciting world of robots!

Many people worry that a robotics project is too complex for a beginner or a younger child, especially one without prior experience. However, research has shown that students of all ages need the right amount of challenge in order to enter a focused learning state.

By providing a level of challenge that engages students, robotics classes help kids grow new skills in a wide range of academic areas, develop a sense of self efficacy, and have a great time doing it!

However, being frustrated or anxious is a blocker to learning, which means that making sure students have the right level of skills and guidance is also important. Robotics classes, with tutors, guided videos, and community forums where students can get help with their projects, all combine with self-directed engineering kits to ensure that no student loses their way.

Thimble.io’s robotics projects for beginners

Thimble.io is committed to making robotics classes accessible for kids of our ages. All of our interactive exercises are meant to hit just the right challenge level, even for students having their first experience with robotics!

Thimble’s robotics classes are carefully designed to prevent the frustration barrier from reducing a student’s engagement with STEM learning. We help your student find just the right balance of challenge and confidence to get into a focused flow state where learning can happen.

kid playing with robot

Our robotics box comes with everything you need to create your own robot, including materials and video lessons explaining how to set everything up. Reducing frustration and friction by providing all the necessary parts ensures that kids can jump right into their robotics classes with no worries!

Students who prefer written instructions can check out our Learning Platform, which provides step by step descriptions for each project. More visual learners can watch the videos that accompany all our robotics kits for kids.

Robotics classes provide community

They say that no one is an island – and that holds true for robotics legend Elon Musk as well. His accomplishments are impressive, but he certainly didn’t do it all alone! The tech mogul went to Stanford, where he learned key STEM skills. He also had teachers, mentors, and friends along the way who helped him figure things out.

In fact, most students learn STEM skills more quickly and deeply if they learn by doing buddy work or in a group environment. Assigning team roles, managing a project together, and working with others teaches important communication skills.

That’s why Thimble.io doesn’t just send off a robotics kit – we combine all of our products with classes that include videos and live build-a-longs, where you can learn from experts. Our website’s learning platform also has a vibrant forum community where you can ask questions, find new activities, and share ideas.

Ready to become the next Elon Musk? Get started with an Introduction to Engineering & Computer Science.