28 October 2018

The Little Ones learn to code with Power Tracks

'Do you know what coding is?' I asked Little 1 the other day when our latest toy review product had just arrived, 'Not really', she replied. In a world full of computers, gadgets and technology I wasn't particularly surprised though I am sure I have talked to her about this before. I began to explain the room-sized early computers, binary code and all about coding machines and programmes to get things to work. She was actually really interested so I told her all about our Little friend Volty, you are about to meet. 

Volty is a super cute programmable robot shaped to look like a 9 volt battery with such a cute smile, he comes in a kit called Power Tracks. Power Tracks aims to teach children the basics of coding and sequencing using Volty and templates to create your own track (circuit). 

Inside the box you get- Volty the programmable robot, (requires 3 x AAA batteries) 24 double sided circuit tiles, 10 cards with a circuit diagram on each side from simple to more complex, 40 command cards and instructions.

Then following the simple instructions you can either copy one of the circuit diagrams (right from a beginners 3 tile easy straight to a more difficult circuit set up) and get to work programing Volty. 

Little 1 jumped right in and tried a harder one, Power Tracks is aimed at age 5+ and at age 9 Little 1 just got on with it with no help, she worked out the moves she needed to programme and lined up the command cards to help her remember the sequence before entering her programme.

Volty is really easy to programme, you just press the 'programme' button and then type in the list of instructions you have worked out, then press ok and he is ready to go. Put him on the start square of your circuit, press the ok button and off he will go following your programmed code as he keeps himself straight on the black line, if you have made a mistake he will beep as he comes off the track, the code can then easily be changed following the instructions.

Another day Little 2 and 3 had a go, Little 2 got to grips with it quickly and found Volty easy to use, she made a few mistakes working out the moves, such as how many times to enter forwards, but it was easy to alter her instructions and for her to work out where she had gone wrong using the command cards for support. 

Little 3 helped to build the track and giggled as Volty followed the circuit eager to see if Volty would follow the track or if he would turn the wrong way.

As well as simple corner and straight pieces there are pieces of track with bar codes on that tell Volty to do something such as make a sound, light up, flash etc. The favourite piece was the flash one where Volty's eyes would light up different colours as he crossed over the card as well as the amplifier piece that makes the next sound he makes louder (hence little 3 having his hands over his ears in anticipation, it wasn't that loud though).

It seems everywhere you look these days Science and STEM (Science, technology, engineering and Maths) products are everywhere, personally I think this is great as all three Little Ones love getting hands on playing and learning with these types of products can only help their learning, investigation, knowledge and skills.

Power tracks is really simple, kid friendly and easy to use and priced at around £30 so not one to break the bank either. All three Little Ones loved it but Little 2 thought it was really good and it kept her attention a long time so I would definitely agree it is suited to age 5+ as recommended, at 9 years old Little 1 had fun but got bored with the limitations of the track quite quickly, having said that she has got it out several more times to play over the past couple of weeks so it must be fun. 

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