STEM / STEAM Robotics: the Best STEM Kits and EdTech Robots
These EdTech robots are designed around the skills of tomorrow. Explore the fundamentals of programming, mechanical & electronic engineering, design, iOT, and even artificial intelligence. Use advanced 3D modeling to design and 3D print your own robot, or assemble a DIY robot straight from one of our Builder’s Kits.
In this post, keep reading to see how the design of Otto STEM kits are limited only by your imagination (and technical expertise). We’ll introduce you to Otto, share STEM lessons plans and online courses, and show you why Otto ranks among the best STEM Kits.
STEM vs STEAM in the EdTech Classroom
First, let’s talk about STEM vs STEAM in the classroom. There’s been quite the debate among educators here, so it’s important to put this into perspective. In education, both STEM and STEAM provide teachers effective and meaningful ways to connect with and engage students.
STEM in the EdTech classroom encompasses Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A STEM approach integrates these disciplines to embrace teaching skills and subjects in a way that more resembles real life. STEAM adds the Arts into this equation.
In both methodologies, the idea isn’t about giving one subject equal or greater time to the others. Rather, STEM and STEAM classes are more rounded, taking an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on projects and inquiry.
Why is STEM + STEAM Important for Young Learners?
In today’s classrooms, educators see more and more need for STEM concepts to integrate with the creative problem-solving skills of the Arts. Businesses and industries now desire “future-ready” employees who possess multiple areas of expertise. That, or employees who at least appreciate wider skill sets.
In a STEAM project, it becomes much easier for students to make logical connections between cross-curricular concepts. It likewise creates an environment in which lessons are more exciting, hands-on, and engaging.
Adding the Arts into STEM encourages collaborative discovery and inventive problem-solving. It helps students develop an understanding of concepts in tandem, and practices integrating principles and presenting information.
STEAM: Fundamental Concepts of 21st Century Education
The best STEM kits and STEAM projects support “the 4 C’s” of 21st Century education. These are: “Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication”. More importantly, STEAM projects develop the skills of the 22nd century: Connection, Care, Community, and Culture.
Alongside the Arts, STEM better represents real life and the challenges ahead for the future workforce. STEAM gives students a method of discovery through application, as part of a greater whole, rather than the traditional approach of individual knowledge silos.
Especially for young learners, STEM kits and STEAM projects can have a greater impact and are more memorable. They also ensure crucial skills in the humanities aren’t neglected. This way students learn how to apply knowledge, research, and skills to real-life problem solving.
From STEAM Education to Tomorrow’s Workforce
For example, imagine a class working together to create a visually appealing product or object based on an understanding of a STEM concept. Perhaps it’s a design representing the mathematics of the parabola to create fine arts images.
Adopting STEAM thinking like this, students develop skills they will use in the real world and in the workforce. Take for example architects. On a daily basis, they use science, math, engineering, technology, and design to perform their jobs.
Very rarely nowadays do employers seek candidates with only one skill set. The best STEM kits and STEAM curriculums will ensure students develop the wider, more marketable range of skills future employers will desire.
Why Use STEM Robotics Kits in the Classroom
More and more, robotics kits are a popular addition in the STEM classroom, and especially for STEAM curriculums. Robotics kits (like Otto) are not only kid-friendly, but have also been built for educational purposes.
By building Otto and integrating the electronics, students have an engaging way to discover mechanical & electronic engineering, and robotic assembly. You can do this with all the robotic parts, casing, and electronics straight out of the box, or opt to 3D design and 3D print Otto.
Then, after assembly, you decide what programming language best fits your needs. Use visual coding for beginners (Blockly), C / C++ (Arduino), or more advanced coding languages like Python. Write code for your robot, and then test it out on its remote control.
Overall, we believe these are the best STEM kits for beginners and experts alike, even when on a tight budget. Otto was designed for classroom use or distance learning, at-home family projects, and robot enthusiasts of all ages.
Getting started: Engineering and Robotic Assembly
When starting out, a STEAM robotics project might seem a daunting task. However, parents and teachers should have no fear with Otto STEM kits. Otto comes with easy-to-follow instructions which guide you through the entire construction process.
If you’re building a robot out of a Builder’s Kit, expect no longer than 1-2 hours for assembly. Should you opt for a Maker’s Kit, add 8 hours for 3D printing (or less, with a high-end 3D printer) to print Otto’s external parts and casing.
Inside both types of our STEM kits, you’ll find everything you need to build your robot. There is the main board, circuitry and wires, Servo motors, sensors, buzzers, and all the moving parts to make your robot tick.
Otto Academy and our Online Courses also provide a wealth of STEM and STEAM resources for engineering your robot. There is a lot of material to develop effective and engaging STEM and STEAM lesson plans, but more on this after we talk about coding Otto.
Customize Otto with 3D Design and 3D Printing
Circuitry, electronics, and main boards are all easy to connect, with no need for soldering or complicated electronic engineering. Create your own personal adaptations and add-ons for Otto’s design, or start with the basics knowing you can enhance Otto later.
Use TinkerCAD to customize Otto’s size, shape, and overall design. This program is suitable even for beginners in 3D design, and for robot enthusiasts of all ages. It’s also very common in the STEM / STEAM classroom, introducing young students to the skills of tomorrow.
Experiment with, Learn and Teach Programming
While the goal of many coding toys is to introduce very young children to programming, Otto takes it a step further. We wanted our EdTech robotics kits to cater to all ages, providing entertainment for kids, students, teachers, and adults alike.
This is why with Otto you have a number of approaches you can take to programming your robot. For absolute beginners to the world of coding, Otto supports both Blockly and Scratch AI. Simply plug Otto into any laptop or PC, and you can begin programming in no time.
Then, for more advanced programming projects, deploy code directly in Arduino, in Python, or in more advanced coding languages. You choose, depending on your skill level and the programming language you believe best supports your project.
Discover the Link between Code and Action
Perfect for encouraging collaborative discovery, developing programs for Otto to carry out is great for learning and for small groups. This is where you see the connection between code and action, and can start bringing Otto to life with its own unique personality.
It’s possible to find programs directly from the Community, or you can challenge yourself to write your own. You can program Otto to have a variety of movements, gestures with sounds, and many codes and modes of interaction.
Through trial and error, Otto comes to life while exercising your mathematical & creative problem solving skills. Otto is also completely open source, meaning anything you discover might become a valuable contribution to Otto’s thriving community.
Remote Control your Robot on Any Android or iOS Device
Next, for the remote control part of our STEM kit. Otto’s app for control supports Android, iOS, and is compatible with Arduino (and Blockly). After you’ve downloaded the app, the first step is to turn Otto on and connect it to a Bluetooth device.
Here, you’ll be able to access all of Otto’s commands and functions, via smartphone or tablet — whichever you prefer. The user interface displays Otto’s range of commands: a selection of various dance steps.
Experiment with each command to find the perfect set of dance moves for your Otto’s routine. You have control of the robot’s speed, and commands for Otto to move quicker or slower during processes. Also, make the robot beep, buzz, whirr, or emit a variety of other robot sounds.
Otto can even show emotion. Use the remote control to command a variety of gestures and responses. Your robot can look excited, or it can look bored. Otto can faint, or look enamored. It can look grumpy, or it can simply be looking to crack a few jokes. The controls are yours.
Deploy a STEM Robot with the Technologies of Tomorrow
Another reason Otto robots rank among the best STEM kits on the market is their support of the technologies of tomorrow. The future is in fields of development, iOT technologies, 3D design, 3D printing, AI, and augmented / virtual reality. Otto bridges the gap to this new world.
With Otto DIY robotics kits, robot enthusiasts of all ages can start developing and mastering skills of the evolving workforce. And while Otto was designed as a robotics kit for kids and teens, they also possess the versatility in design and function to challenge advanced hobbyists.
Through building, coding, and controlling robots, you develop valuable skills and have fun while doing it. Really, what better way is there to learn and teach STEM concepts in the classroom (or at home) than robots you design, program, and personalize?
Contribute to open source software and applications
Looking for a real challenge? Otto is a fully open source robot building kit, from its design to its programs. You can borrow from the community, or 3D design Otto and write unique codes to show off your skills and contribute to Otto’s development.
Use TinkerCAD to 3D design everything from Otto’s size and shape, to its color, head, eyes, arms, legs, and body. Design and then print anything you imagine: antennas, pinchers for grasping objects, wheels for mobility, compatibility for a new main board, and much much more.
Then, you design your robot’s functions by writing code in Blockly, Arduino, ESP, or Python and other advanced coding languages. Code functions for Otto to perform new dances, play music, sing along, avoid obstacles, retrieve objects, or anything you can dream up and program.
Choosing the Best STEM Kits and STEAM Kits for Students
Now, when choosing the best STEM kits for the EdTech classroom, you want something age appropriate but also challenging and entertaining.
Our robots meet this demand. They are the perfect classroom aid for a supervised introduction to robotics for children under 8. Then, at older ages (8-12+), students can take on more challenging projects designing, building, and coding their own robots.
From elementary & middle school, to high school and even university, our STEM kits cater to all classrooms, teachers, and students. We’re even launching Otto At Home, thanks to our participation in the Impact Tech Ed Accelerator Remote Schooling Initiative. This EU program will offer and support hundreds of students with robotics kits for distance learning.
EdTech STEM Packs for Families, Schools, and Classrooms
Ready to equip your home or classroom with multiple robots? Maybe it’s for a family project, or you’re teaching STEM concepts to a number of groups and classes.
Otto EdTech Robotics Packs save you money the more robots you order. These Edtech packages include everything you need to build a robot, all in one box for classroom use. Each box is portable and safe for storing and carrying your STEM kit on-the-go.
Packages start from 6 Builder Kits, including Bluetooth modules, rechargeable batteries, building manuals, and lots of accessories. Everything you need to teach robotics and coding skills in the classroom is all included, even access to free online courses through Otto Academy.
STEAM Curriculums and Projects
Free to access, even absolute beginners can be on the road to STEAM learning in no time. Each class helps teach and reinforce the fundamentals of robotics, computational thinking, and Computer Science principles.
All while encouraging open-ended, imaginative play-based learning through real-life scenarios. Students benefit while building unique robots, learning programming, and creating robots with their own designs and 3D printing.
Classes, Courses, and STEAM Lesson Plans
Ready to join or teach one our robotics courses? The lessons from our academy below will help get your entire class (or family) on the road to STEAM learning.
Want to take it a step further, or have a plan for your own STEM robotics course? Sign up and participate in Otto’s Educators’ Program. Here, we are constantly creating new content with STEM teachers to develop more courses and learning materials. Simply sign up and all courses you design will be compensated by a free Builder’s Kit.
Ready to start building your very own robots?
To discover more about Otto and our robotics kits for STEM and STEAM education, contact Otto any time. You can also follow us and join in on the fun on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Together, we’ll help you find the best STEM kits to meet your needs in the Edtech classroom, at home, and beyond.