Review: The OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot

OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

Educators today are focused on STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. They know the importance of these fields to the future and strive to get children interested in these fields early. One way to generate interest is with robotics. Kids love to watch robots and enjoy the challenge of creating their own working robots. This robot kit from OWI offers kids the opportunity to create their own robots and learn about gears, solar energy, and more.

It's perfect for homeschoolers, but fun, educational, and challenging for all kids.

What the OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot Includes

The kit comes with parts that can be used to create 14 different robots, divided into two levels: Level One consists of robots for beginners and Level Two consists of robots for experienced robot builders. Kids who have never built robots before would, of course, start with Level One. However, even experienced robot builders will enjoy creating the robots in Level One. Once kids have put together all the robots in Level One, they can move on to make the robots in Level Two. Robots are made one at a time. To build another robot, the previously made robot needs to be taken apart so the necessary parts are available for the next robot to be made.

Two Levels of Robots
Robots in Level OneRobots in Level Two
  • Turtle-bot
  • Beetle-bot
  • Quadru-bot
  • Boat-bot
  • Walker-bot
  • Dog-bot
  • Wheel-bot
  • Roly Poly-bot
  • Auto-bot
  • Slither-bot
  • Surf-bot
  • Zombie-bot
  • Crab-bot
  • Row-bot


Each of the robots moves in its own unique way. For example, the dog-bot wags its tail, the beetle-bot runs, and the crab-bot walks. Most of the robots work on dry land, but some of the robots in Level Two, such as the Surf-bot and the Row-bot, work on water.

Because the robots are solar powered, no batteries are needed.

The polarity on the solar panel can be adjusted so that the gears reverse their direction. Kids can watch the movement of the gears, too, because the gearbox housing is transparent.

Review

The OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot allows children to learn about gears, robots, and solar energy. It also allows them to use their imaginations, always a plus in a toy for gifted children. Once they have followed the included instructions to build the 14 robots the instructions are for, kids can begin to build their own original robots. That is a great way to learn about robotics and engineering.

Before any of the robots can be built, the gear box and solar panel need to be put together. Some younger children might need help putting these together, but once they're together, it's fairly simple to create the robots. The pieces easily snap together.

The pieces are initially all attached to plastic supports. The advantage of that arrangement is that it prevents the many small pieces from getting lost before any of the robots are built.

The disadvantage is that if the pieces aren't "broken off" from the plastic supports carefully, the robots won't work properly. Little pieces of the tabs that might remain on the robot parts will need to be sanded, filed, or carefully clipped off. The kit includes plastic sealable bags to store all the pieces to keep them from getting lost once they are removed from the supports. Encouraging your child to use them can help with the organization "challenges" some gifted kids face.

Although the robots are supposed to be solar powered, it can sometimes be a bit tricky to get the robots to work in the sunlight. In some cases, the sunlight has to hit the solar panel directly or the robot won't move. This problem, however, can be turned into a learning experience. You can your child can research how solar energy works and try to find out the reason the light has to hit the panel directly.

Because the robots are solar powered, they are meant to be used outdoors. However, the kids can play with the robots indoors by shining a bright flashlight on the solar panels.

The kit is for children ages 8-15, but younger gifted kids might have fun with it. Kids 3 and under are really too young, though, because of the choking hazard presented by the small pieces.

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