Being a kid typically means toys, video games, and books for the holidays, but if you know a tinkerer, you might want to order in some gadgets for a young inventor.
Kids can be easy to buy for — a toy here, a book or video game there — but if you’re looking for a way to nurture the genius in someone young you know, you may need to venture out of the shopping square you normally find yourself in.
Instead, consider going for a gadget that’s a little more focused on creating, inspiring, and inventing. From the beginnings of computers to robots to kits that encourage tinkering, we’re catering for young inventors with a little gift guide.
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
A computer the size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi is something you’ve been able to find for some time, and has been getting progressively better, being a solid starting point for someone getting into coding and making things. Last year’s model, the Pi 4, is still quite capable, being a place to start for projects and inventors.
A Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with Windows, but you can find plenty of books, magazines, and online videos to teach kids how to use it, with the tiny computer being used for lots of things, including being able to make their own pint-sized gaming system.
Raspberry Pi 400 Keyboard
Price: from $110
If a circuit board is a little too complex for your young inventor, consider a variant of the Raspberry Pi that has thrown the circuit board into something usable: a keyboard.
Roughly the same thing, but a little more accessible, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a keyboard with a computer inside, allowing young coders and inventors to get stuck into making their things without needing to make the computer into something. Basically, this is about as plug and play as tinkering gets.
Sphero Mini Activity Kit
The robotic ball that is Sphero hasn’t seen many changes over the past couple of years, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still capable. In fact, if you’re after an entry into innovative thinking, picking up one of the miniature editions and teaching kids to code and tinker may be a solid idea.
The Sphero Mini Activity Kit takes the Sphero Mini from a few years back, but makes it see-through, so would-be inventors can see how it works, while also bringing the odd obstacle to the package to help inspire programming efforts for making the Sphero Mini robotic ball do things.
LittleBits Avengers Hero Kit
A bit of a starting place for inventors with an imagination, LittleBits has come together with The Avengers for a kit to make a superhero wearable that kids will build and then program.
It’s a beginning to how things fit together and how to make them work, and while it won’t likely send your child to superhero school, it will give them a starting point for tinkering and inventing.
LittleBits STEAM Student Kit
Different again, the LittleBits STEAM kit is a proper workshop for a young tinkerer, bringing together training and gadget building under one box.
There’s over 16 hours work and enough gear for a few students, but if that someone you’re buying for really loves making things, they’ll probably get stuck into what’s on offer in no time.
Lego Star Wars Droid Commander
Finally, there’s a way to make the droids your kids might be looking for, or at least yearning to build, with a robot creation kit that employs everyone’s favourite stackable blocks — Lego — with a Bluetooth-controlled element that can move the robots.
Moving a robot is one part of the formula, but programming them is another, and that’s part of what Lego’s Boost range is about, with this kit bringing some building and programming to the world of Star Wars.