Tech Will Save Us Creative Coder Kit Review7th February 2019
Reviewed by Louise Totton
We are all a bit gadget mad in our house, it’s a bit hard not to be in this technological age. I love gadgets and gizmos, and that is now transferring to the kids. I do, however, at least try to make sure that a chunk of their gadget and electronics time isn’t spent staring at a tablet or playing on the Xbox, especially as there are so many fantastic, educational and engaging gadget type toys to pick from. My eldest has a clip-style circuit board kit that she loves and the youngest has a couple of junior coding toys. They get online homework from school that is completed virtually, and this often involves small coding tasks.
Tech Will Save Us offer a great range of STEM toys (for ages 4-11+ years old) that encourage making and coding alongside play. We were delighted to receive the Creative Coder Kit and as the weather (snow, sleet, ice and bitterly cold) has seen us stay indoors, it was great to have some educational, creative and fun to do.
The Creative Coder Kit allows you to build and code (using simple block-based coding) a wearable smart device, and with wearables being very ‘in’ at the moment, the kids were very keen to try this one out. The kit is aimed at 8+ but I decided that with support, both my kids (9 and nearly 7) would be able to use it.
Just like the Sew & Glow kit we previously tried, the first step is to log on to the portal and there are step-by-step instruction guides to follow. We laid out the contents of the box to check that there was nothing missing. The box contains:
- Casing & Battery Pack
- Velcro Strap
- Micro USB Cable
- Free access to our coding software
- Brain and Light PCBs
We were then ready to start assembling the kit. The first step is to assemble to device itself. This isn’t difficult at all, and it simply clicks together. The online instructions make doing this very easy and my eldest was able to do this with minimal support from me. This part of the tutorial also made it clear to the kids exactly what the device was, and how it worked. There are three ‘memory slots’ – two of them are each taken up with a permanent function (the Activity App and the Bike Light App), whereas the third slot is for the user to decide on.
There are loads of apps to pick from, but the device can only hold one at a time. This isn’t an issue, because it can always be swapped back again should they pick an app that they’re not as keen on. Depending on what you make, the device can be attached to a slap band, a Velcro strap or just be used as a ‘disc’.
You need to download some software to you PC, laptop or Mac. You need to be on a computer running MacOS (10.9 or later) or Windows (7 or later). Fortunately, my laptop ticked all the boxes so we were good to go and get coding!
The interface of the app is great and lends itself perfectly to the child being able to work independently. My eldest was up and running with it in now time and had soon figured out the block coding method that the Bolt software uses. Just as with the Sew and Glow kit, there are step-by-step guides that have copies of the coding required to create different functions. Most of the functions are filed under ‘easy’, which means they were accessible to both of the kids – the Fortune Teller was a particular favourite as they had been making the paper versions at school recently. My eldest also thoroughly enjoyed making a light sabre, although this did require some bits from our scrap card and craft cupboard. She is really keen to get cracking on the hard level task – creating your own code from scratch but I’m not entirely sure that she’s ready for that yet.
Having said that, I see that as a good thing as it means that it will grow with her and she will continue to be stretched and challenged by it. We loved this kit, and I think it is something that both girls will come back to again and again. Like the best educational toys, it doesn’t feel like you are learning – it just feels like a challenge, like problem solving and like good fun!
This kit has filled an otherwise windy, wet and dark weekend and I think they would each make brilliant gifts. TWSU have kits to suit all budgets and there are some fabulous ones in the range, so there is bound to be something to suit all interests, there are even kits suitable for kids as young as 4!
A fun, educational and creative way to spend an afternoon.
For more information or to buy visit www.techwillsaveus.com.
DISCLOSURE: We received this product for free for the purposes of writing an honest and impartial review. All thoughts and opinions are those of the author.