REVIEW: Botley the Coding Robot from Learning Resources

My mini reviewer (7) couldn’t wait to get started when we were sent this to review. In the box you get 77 pieces:

Botley the Coding Robot

Remote programmer

Instruction booklet

Detachable robot arms

Sticker sheet

Goal

2 Balls

2 Flags

40 Coding Cards

6 Boards (which join together like a puzzle)

8 Sticks

12 Cubes

2 Cones

We started by going through the instruction booklet so that we knew (roughly) what we were doing. The buttons on the remote programmer are clear and easy to understand so your child shouldn’t need to spend much time getting to grips with it. There are two modes on the bottom of Botley – Code and Line. Starting with simple coding we followed the instructions to start moving Botley around using sequences such as: FORWARD, FORWARD, RIGHT, RIGHT, FORWARD. You can then add steps to the sequence once Botley has completed his moves; add in the additional steps you want Botley to make and then press ‘transmit’ and he will complete the original sequence and the additional steps. The sequence can be cleared by pressing the ‘clear’ button.

We tried a few sequences of our own and you can be helped out by using the Coding Cards; use the cards to keep track of the steps that you have programmed in to Botley, and these are also colour coordinated to match the buttons on the programmer. So far, the instructions are really clear which makes it far more enjoyable for your child as there isn’t any frustration when they can’t quite work out what they should be doing.

We then tried Object Detection, my mini reviewer found it quite funny as Botley honks continuously if there is something in his way, and only stops when you move the obstacle. Next was Black Line Following. On the reverse side of the coloured puzzle pieces are single black lines against a white background, move the switch under Botley to ‘line’ and place him on the black line and press the button on top of Botley. Botley will then follow the line and he will turn around once he reaches the end.

Botley comes with detachable arms which can be used to help him perform tasks and he will be able to guide and move objects, such as the included balls and blocks from one place to another. Further on in the booklet there are some Coding Challenges which are designed to help familiarise your child with coding commands, They start off with very simple tasks and slowly work up to much more difficult challenges and I really like the way that it is done step by step so that your child doesn’t feel lost. You can also easily turn back a few pages to remind yourself how to do certain steps or how to use Object Detection.

My mini reviewer carried on playing with this for a very long time after we got it out, and wouldn’t give up until he had worked out how to program Botley get a ball in to the goal!

Botley is perfect for encouraging an interest in STEM learning and there are endless ways in which Botley can be used such as setting up mazes for him using objects from around the home or setting challenges for your child to figure out. Botley is suitable for ages 5 and over, which is the perfect age as children will start learning position and movement in Year 1. Botley looks fun and friendly and although he is not strictly a ‘toy’, children will have fun playing with him without realising how much they are learning. This would also be a fantastic resource for those who home school.

Botley requires 3AAA batteries and the remote programmer takes 2AAA batteries. The only downside is that it doesn’t come in a box that you can keep all the bits in (unless you pack it back up in the plastic and cardboard it came in every time) as there is a window in the box so the pieces fall out. This is a little annoying as there are 77 pieces, many of which are quite small. This aside, Botley is a wonderful and very clever little robot which retails at just £79.00 and can be purchased here from Learning Resources.

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