More STEM toys from me. This time, STEM kits from the company behind CrowPi2 – Elecrow. CrowBits are currently in the funding stage on IndieGoGo. While I caution about backing projects online, the success story behind CrowPi and CrowPi2 which came to live this way put me at ease this time. Especially that I got my hands on 4 CrowBits kits to play with and share my thoughts. [EDIT – now funded!]
4 CrowBits kits to enable your inner maker
CrowBits are kits that merge electronics, programming, coding and entertainment into one. Aimed at kids around 8+, kits consist of LEGO-style blocks and magnetic electronic modules to explore, learn, play and have fun with. The content of each box isn’t revolutionary, as each box comes with some sort of microcontroller and bunch of sensors you could get on AliExpress for next to nothing, but by carefully curating each box and making it accessible for young kids – CrowBits provide hard to beat value among other educational toys.
|Crowbits Kit||IndieGoGo Price||Elecrow Store Price|
If you want to grab these at a bargain price, then backing it up via IndieGoGo is the best way. Each kit provides all the toys, tools and educational curriculum focusing on different aspects of making. Master and Explorer kits will challenge the coding skills while creator and Inventor kits bring more focus on electronics and sensors.
Each box contains magnetic, snappable blocks that fit nicely together. It’s a great concept for youngsters and adults who rather not see their offspring playing with soldering irons just yet. Instead, modules and associated LEGO-style bricks can be used to follow tutorials and to create your own adventures into STEM world.
Crowbits come with complete instructions for assembly and programming parts, so as a parent you are there to provide guidance only. You don’t have to work in the field to support your kids, as instructions are well illustrated and explained to carry the family through each project.
Enough advertising, lets dig in! I will open and try each kit. Just bear in mind while I might be young at heart, I’m in the age of the average parent and I have no kids as of yet. Everything I say moving forward is my uncompromised selfish approach to STEM toys and tech I wish I had access to as a kid!
Powered by BBC’s Microbit, the Inventor kit introduces block programming to kids and teaches them how to write code that interacts with the environment through sensors. You will be able to build programable cars and moving contraptions out of Lego-compatible blocks. It’s a great entry into robotics as well as programming.
The kit comes with a big bag of bricks, Microbit board, a couple of sensors and DC motors to drive cars and contraptions. There is also a pad with follow-line print to test your programming skills.
With Arduino UNO compatible microcontroller, this kit introduces kids to GPIO manipulation, programming and creating interactive toys thanks to included bricks and cutouts. It’s very much hands-on experience on how things work. The kit takes the advantage of kid’s creative side by letting them get wild with how bricks are put together.
The kit comes with an RGB matrix and several modules that interact with the battery-powered microcontroller. With fun games to try, this kit won’t let kids sit frustrated and each project is also a game that can be played.
This kit focuses on the electronic side more than programming. With clever use of Lego-compatible bricks kids will create robotic walkers, senor enabled lights and more! All this without writing a single line of code. A perfect start to STEM with an easy follow a learning curve.
The kit contains lots of bricks, sensors and mechanical elements that can be built together to achieve interesting contraptions. There is also a wireless receiver for RF-based projects.
The most complex of the kits, thanks to ESP32 based microcontroller. You will be able to make several games, a retro handheld console or a mobile phone. These things can be easily built thanks to the modular design, but often require more complex programming to get the project off the ground.
I would advise adult help with this kit, as the tasks at hand while very rewarding, can be too challenging for kids new at this. The kit contains a screen-based module, a SIM-enabled module for cellular connectivity pads and keypads.
I’m a big fan of educational toys, I might be slightly too old for these, but I will find a more appropriate audience through a local Hackspace. These will make a brilliant foothold into STEM education and I’m sure both parents and kids will appreciate the time spending together learning a thing or two. Check Elecrow out for more educational products, who knows what else you will like. If you have any thoughts – do let me know in this Reddit thread.