Generation Alpha, children born between 2010 and 2025, is the first generation entirely born in the 21st century. These are the children who can be part of Elon Musk's Ad Astra School, the ones who grow up with an iPhone in their hands for which they are also known as the iGeneration. These are the children who are going to populate Mars and explore distant galaxies in the future.
The oldest Alphas are now nine years old. They are infused in technology and see robots as simply natural friendly companions. Gen Alphas are not afraid of Artificial Intelligence. According to Robert Hannah, Chief Operating Officer at Grant Thornton U.K., "by 2025, Generation Alpha will number 2 billion globally. It will be the wealthiest, most educated, and technologically literate in history."
Indeed, to get them there, educating the Alphas has to be both exciting and challenging. No traditional way of teaching Generation Alpha children will work for their future needs. They have smart voice assistants such as Google, Siri, and Alexa to answer all of their questions. Educators and parents need to step up their game when it comes to entertaining the Alphas or educating them, especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
Luckily, there are education startups such as CreativityBox, an education technology public-benefit corporation that wants to make technology education accessible to every child in the world, and UBTECH Robotics, a global leader in intelligent humanoid robotics and Artificial Intelligence technologies, that are willing to create kits that are entertaining as well as educational; great tools with which the young Alphas can learn the first steps into STEM skills and have fun. The perfect edu-fun combo.
Below, there is a curated selection of great codable robots for the young Alphas. These kits are also great for schools that want their students to excel in STEM skills.
Learn with Mochi by CreativityBox
Learn with Mochi by CreativityBox debuts fun screen-free coding for children ages 3-6 in an initiative to replace screen time. Mochi is a cute bear that is absolutely brilliant for teaching curious small children the first steps into coding in a playful and hands-on way. The little ones can learn colors, numbers, letters, basic words, and coding all at the same time. Mochi is LEGO-compatible.
Learn with Mochi Kickstarter campaign is live now and shipping by Christmas anywhere in the world is available. The learning experience includes stories, hands-on coding, and a real-world programming environment.
In a world where children grow up with screens since they are infants it is thoroughly refreshing that there is also screen-free technology for STEM education. Dr. Vardanyan, Chief Scientist at CreativityBox, said that "it’s hard to compete with the immediate gratification of screen-based content. Early childhood is a wonderful time to explore and develop brain plasticity, because early investments in education compound over a lifetime.” Indeed.
Five years ago, inventor, Founder, and CEO of CreativityBox Mark Pavlyukovskyy created a computer that changed the lives of hundred of thousands of children by empowering them to build and program their own technology. The Piper Computer Kit debuted on Kickstarter in March 2015. The educational kit, for ages 7-12, went on to receive accolades from Dr. Toy's 2017 Top Tech Toys, 2018 Toy of the Year, ITSE's 2019 Best of Show Award, Amazon's Top Picks in STEM Education, and even from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
But when Mark’s good friend Dr. Mihran Vardanyan had his third child, they realized children today are glued to their screens since a very early age. It was then when they decided to create something just as stimulating—but completely screenless—to nourish the growing brains and curious hands of their youngest children, children as little as three to six.
According to Pavlyukovskyy, “pop culture teaches kids to be consumers, not creators. Our kids are taught to consume technology from a young age: iPads, YouTube, games, movies, you name it. But they aren’t being empowered to build it.”
In order to compete with the screen, Mochi combines audio-visual feedback, touch, visuals, songs, sounds, and movement alongside story-based educational content, so kids can engage in self-directed play or collaborative and guided learning. Mochi is the only robotics kit in the world programmed with a stuffed animal bear. Its multi-modal functions and story-based sequence appeal equally to boys and girls.
Mochi is a fascinating learning experience that inspires creativity. Alpha kids learning with Mochi are sure to be great programmers in their future co-existing with Artificial Intelligence and robots. By learning the basics of computational thinking and STEM skills without a screen attached to the robot, they can also develop an emotional attachment to animals such as bears, and also to their natural environment.
Learn with Mochi's full story library includes topics such as planets, colors, numbers, letters, shapes, animals, words, fruits, planet Earth, time, biology, and good habits. Mochi also offers Education Kits specially designed for educators and classroom settings.
Iris M. Steine, Ph.D, Clinical Psychologist, loved that "the Mochi team, has taken the existing research seriously by creating a product that contributes not only to reducing screen time, but also to promoting healthy development of interpersonal, communication, and motor skills—all while teaching fundamental coding skills.”
UnicornBot by UBTECH Robotics
From JIMU Robot Mythical Series, the UnicornBot brings magical powers and STEM skills to the creative young Alphas. This buildable, codable robot lets children learn to use Blockly coding to program their UnicornBot's special color sensor using the eight magical color cards. The UnicornBot's magical horn can be programmed with different colors to customize and personalize this adorable unicorn.
The kit includes 440 snap-together parts, one color sensor, two smooth motion robotic servo motors, one DC motor, one rag light-up unicorn horn, one main control box, and a USB cable. It doesn't include creative stories with settings in a land far away, though. The stories are exclusively to be created by the children's imagination. The free application works with Apple and Android devices. This interactive robotic building block system is perfect for ages 8 and up.
FireBot Dragon by UBTECH Robotics
Also from JIMU Robot Mythical Series, the FireBot dragon is a great addition to mythical and creative play for building real-world STEM skills. Designed for children 8 and up, FireBot is now available on Amazon.
As magical as the unicorn, this dragon merges the magical mythical world with code actions such as LED lights that make the FireBot glow fiery red or icy blue as its jaw opens and closes. A programmable touch sensor on FireBot's chest makes the dragon drive fluidly while flapping its impressible customizable wings.
As well as the UnicornBot, the FireBot kit comes with an application to use the Blockly coding platform that allows children to create custom sequences. These kits introduce powerful programming skills and STEM principles applied to robotics as well as creative play.
The FireBot kit includes three smooth motion robotic servo motors, one fast action DC motor, four gears, a touch sensor, RGB LED light, two sets of dragon wings, 606 easy snap-together parts and connectors, among other things.
MeeBot 2.0 Robot by UBTECH Robotics
Meet the MeeBot 2.0 Kit. A recent addition to the UBTECH Robotics family of award-winning JIMU robot line for children. MeeBot is a buildable, codable, robot buddy with dancing skills and an Apple exclusive. MeeBot has programmable LED eyes and a codable color sensor to give MeeBot a really cool personality.
MeeBoot 2.0 is ideal for children ages 8 and up who are curious about the fundamentals of STEM, something that will give them a solid ground in skills that will be essential in their future.
Through the JIMU application for iPad or iPhone with iOS 9.0 or later installed, children can build and control the robot while the integrated Blockly coding system opens up limitless potential for lots of new actions and adventures.
MeeBot includes six smooth motion robotic servo motors, plus a new gear system that provides an opportunity to learn about engineering movement and motion. MeeBot 2.0 is a great introduction to STEM, coding, and robotics.
Learning STEM has never been so much fun!