Toys that teach are high on many parents’ wish lists.With more gadgets than ever on the market, Inland 360 asked Behnaz Rezaie, assistant professor of engineering at the University of Idaho, to recommend some tech toys for elementary-aged kids. She listed four build-it-yourself, solar-powered robot projects that introduce young minds to mechanics and alternative energy sources.
All these toys are recommended for ages 8 and older. With the sun at low intensity this time of year, a powerful flashlight might prove handy if any of these bots happen to appear under your tree.
1. 4M Solar Rover Kit, $20
This kit includes all the parts needed to turn a discarded pop can into a solar-powered rover.
2. OWI T4 Transforming Solar Robot, $20
This solar-powered robot can be transformed into four different modes: a robot with walking legs and moving wheels, an insect with six walking legs and moving jaws, a T-Rex with two walking legs and moving jaws or a drill vehicle with a drilling bit and moving wheels.
3. OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot, $40
A more advanced robot that can navigate land and water, this build-it-yourself project can be transformed into 14 different modes with a variety of comical and functional movements. Entry level designs include a Turtle-bot, Beetle-bot and Dog-bot. Among the higher level projects are a Roly Poly-bot, Slither-bot and Row-bot.
4. OWI Solar Space Fleet, $20
In this kit, snap-together parts can create seven different lunar modules powered by direct sunlight or a micro rechargeable battery, from a space station, shuttle and rover to an astronaut and a dog.