Children love to play, and they learn how to play puzzles and they prefer playing over learning. In this age where things like computers and tablets are entering the lives of children, coming with educational games that are there to challenge the mind and to give young minds an interest in technology, its natural something is going to be there to challenge them to go further.
Before computers came along, there were games that inspired children to develop their skills in problem-solving, their team working skills and being innovative. Now ActivePuzzle from Kickstarter has come along because children love robots – a modern, 21st-century piece of technology, and there are many toys on the market, particularly focusing on robots children can build themselves. Too bad electronics and programming are fiddly things to learn; there were cables, screens may not provide all the right instructions, and so the robot won’t work or look the way it should.
But ActivePuzzle solves that problem. It’s simply a game that allows children to learn how to construct little robots out of puzzles while children learn about technology. You just simply snap the blocks of the jigsaw together to form the robots, and you don’t need to worry about things like electronics and coding.
Anyone can construct robots with this toy. The benefits of ActivePuzzle are they teach children how to solve problems, enhance their skills and capacities in logic, develop their spatial cognitive skills, while they develop an interest in science and technology in imaginative and innovative ways. ActivePuzzle created this game to be gender neutral while it teaches children to work as a team while they learn whilst they play.
How it works
The puzzle pieces themselves contain an electronic function, and as the puzzle is fitted together the robot is created. Soon it is able to move, depending on the type of robot the child is developing. The functions of the blocks vary; one block can store the battery which the robot needs to move etc, while another could hold a sensor which lets it “see” anything in front of it, and the functions go on. The robots themselves don’t have a central processing unit. Instead, they work on a principle close to the Braitenberg Vehicle Concept which allows them to work in a distributed manner – there are input blocks which are combined to trigger the adjacent output blocks. The logic blocks will then manipulate the electronic value, and the robot will work.
One of the greatest things about this game is the ActivePuzzle blocks allow you to make more than one robot at once. With the blocks, you already have you can make many different types. You can make a mouse and cheese robot, a maze runner robot, a smart street light, a police car, a smart fan, a wake-up alarm robot, a robot which is actually a smart street lamp, a police car, and a fire alarm.
The pieces of the puzzle visualize some of the most important concepts and functions in electronics and robotics – input and output, and logic.
- Smart Fan Robot – The small robot stands up with a small fan, and it works when the proximity sensor detects an object approaching. The proximity sensor will light up two “eyes”, two lights, and it triggers the motor and an LED.
- Dog Chasing a Bone Robot –Another example of a robot using a proximity sensor, the sensor which is a red block at the top of the robot, ‘sees’ an object in front, triggering the rest of the blocks – two motors which move the robot toward the object, and the LED which is under the proximity sensor.
- Soil Moisture Control Robot – Used for gardening, the robot features a sensor designed to detect the external moisture and is connected to the Arduino block, and it beeps when the soil is dry in the planter with the help of a moisture sensor. If there is a high sensor value, there is high moisture present, if the buzzer beeps it means the planter is full of dry soil. The logic NOT reverses the value of the sensor, and the A2D is then used to select the level of dryness where the buzzer will bleep.
- Who is the game for? – The beauty of ActivePuzzle is its there for everyone who wants to build robots and learn how they work in a simple way. The game is incredibly simple to learn how to play, and it is very intuitive. Anyone who plays will find a number of concepts which are both scientific and technological and can be taught with ActivePuzzle. One of the best things about the game is its gender neutrality. The language of the puzzle is designed to make girls feel confident and natural while it also strengthens their self-efficacy.
- What separates ActivePuzzle? – Yes, there are many robot building block games out there. But that wasn’t what Kickstarter was looking for ways to teach children advanced principles of science and technology, but unfortunately, there were blocks already there to make things harder – computer language, mechanics, programming, and electronics.
For eight years they had problems, and then they realized that instead of making things complicated, they should instead make them learn robotics in their own language, the first language they learn before they learn how to speak – puzzles. ActivePuzzle have certainly developed a robot building toy which teaches children STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and offers a family a great game to play which also enhances their skills in spatial cognition, while giving them a chance to develop their logic and problem-solving skills.