Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Smart Car Robotics

Smart Car Robotics

Spring 2014 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $124.95

The Thames and Kosmos Smart Car Robotics experiment kit includes 211 sturdy plastic pieces which can be configured into eight different vehicles: a car, an airboat, a flying car, a forklift truck, a motorcycle, an airplane, a "car of the future," and a helicopter. Once constructed, children operate their vehicles remotely via iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

Children can use the associated app to create simple programs that instruct the car to automatically follow a predetermined course through an augmented reality cityscape. Building the various models is great for spatial awareness, sequencing, and following of instructions, while operating the vehicle offers hours of fun, imaginative play.

The kit includes a 64-page full-color manual with detailed illustrations of each step; however, fair warning, the complexity of the instructions could be better understood by a slightly higher age group. Eleven- and thirteen-year-old reviewers struggled together to complete the project despite vast experience with diverse building sets. However, the kit is an excellent introduction to engineering topics such as autonomous vehicles, laser detectors, GPS navigation, and onboard computers. Due to the complex nature of both the project and the concepts it teaches, the kit provides a great opportunity for children and parents/caregivers to work together to "test drive the car of the future."

Sharon Heuscher   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Sharon holds B.A.s in English Literature and Ancient Studies as well as a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently a masters-level trainee in Clinical Psychology specializing in neurodegenerative diseases. For the past thirteen years, Sharon has focused primarily on raising, educating, and nurturing her five children who range in age from three to thirteen.

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