In 2021, there are more toys available in the market than ever before. This unbelievable wealth of choice can actually make your life a nightmare when you want to buy an entertaining toy for your child.
I have yet to meet the person who wouldn’t love a magic finger to point at an item and say: This is the toy to end all toys!
But sometimes, the BEST toy is not the fanciest, most expensive in store. What if you ditched the flashy bells and whistles and went for a humble looking educational toy instead? Even though it doesn’t even look like a toy, it could be just the thing you were looking for. Something that triggers their curious instincts and makes them want to explore.
But where and how do you find such a toy?
Arduino might seem like a serious option here, and we are going to explain why.
Looks Are NOT Everything: Arduino’s Popularity
Especially if you are in the United States, you have probably already heard of Arduino.
The little device has gained incredible popularity over the last decade, and this stands well deserved. This rise of attention is now also being recognized in Europe and other continents across the world such as South America and Australia.
The device’s fame is due to its simplicity. Anyone can pick up an Arduino and start learning about electronics, hardware, and programming. Arduino is like LEGO for electronics: it is easy to learn and has a plug-and-play type of assembling.
Which means one thing. There is NO need for soldering.
Before we go too deep into Arduino, let’s first take a first look at what Arduino is.
What is Arduino?
Arduino is an open-source electronics and computer platform. It was founded by the Italian quartet Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, David Mellis and Tom Igoe. Since it was their goal to create easy-to-use hardware and software, they created Arduino.
An Arduino is simply a computer board that can read inputs – like lights on a sensor or measure the distance to an object – and turn it into an output, like turning on an LED or activating an electromagnet.
For instance, with an Arduino board, one can press a button. The Arduino will then receive this input and will output whatever the user has programmed it to do. You can tell the Arduino what to do by sending the instructions via the IDE, Arduino’s programming environment.
Arduino for Children
Due to its simplicity, Arduino can be used by children as young as the age of 7.
Children often want toys that they can get their hands on and see instant results. Arduino offers just that. It is the perfect platform to learn Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Also, there are endless possibilities with the Arduino. The number of projects found online is almost infinite and well documented on the Arduino site. From building a simple LED circuit to building entire robot arms, ANYTHING can be done with Arduino.
This makes it an extremely sustainable toy for children, which can be reused over and over. Projects are rated on difficulty, so your children can learn at their own pace.
As technology becomes more complex, the skills required to understand it are also more valued. This is why Arduino is not only fun and educative, but will put your children in a nice starting position for the future.
What Arduino should I buy?
There are many different Arduino boards and shields out there. So how do you know you are buying the right one for your child’s needs?
You should know that every board has its own specialty and function. One might be more powerful and have more pin slots, thus being more useful for bigger projects and older children. The other might be less powerful but have a WiFi module built into it, which means it’s more compatible with Internet of Things projects.
(To get a quick overview of what Arduino boards are out there, you can read this article about the 5 best Arduino boards in 2021.)
Our advice is to start out with an Arduino starter kit. Like its name suggests, it has all the components, wiring, and boards included. This is useful because you don’t have to sweat over buying them all separately for every project.
The Arduino Uno starter kits usually come at a price of $110. Also, the starter kit comes with a small-sized workbook, wherein projects can be found and explained.
Arduinos are mostly costly because you are not only paying for the board but also supporting the open-source project that’s called Arduino.
A good alternative would be the Elegoo starter kit. Elegoo boards are a lot cheaper but have the same quality as an Arduino board has. This is because these are manufactured in China and are an exact copy of the Arduino boards.
Just note that these articles do not always come with a nice and clear workbook as Arduino does.
We hope that this article explained well how Arduino could fit as a fun, enjoyable, and educative toy for your children or classroom. Arduino is a great introduction to electronics and programming. It really is like LEGO for electronics, and we expect children of ages 7 and older will absolutely love it. If you do decide to pick up one of the Arduino boards or starter kits, we wish you and your children the best of fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Arduino suitable for children?
Arduino boards can be an amazing gift for children. Not only are they fun and enjoyable, but also really educational. In a world becoming more and more technical and complex, understanding electronics and programming are an ideal skill to give to a child.
What age should children be for Arduino?
The minimum age for Arduino is should be at least 7 years old.
Arduino projects have varying levels of difficulty, and there are interesting projects available for EVERY age over 7.
What Arduino board should I buy for my child?
The Arduino Uno is the perfect board for starters. The board is simple, complete, and works like a charm. Also, most shields are compatible with the Uno R3, which is why it is such a good choice for someone’s first board.