Need Advice on What to Purchase

My 13 year old is very interested in robotics. He has had some short robotics courses at camp, but I don’t know what exactly he was taught, although I know it involved some limited programming. I could use some advice on what to buy him as an “entry level” robot, whether it is a kit or a combination of products. I could do soldering if needed, but would prefer to avoid it if it isn’t necessary. Thank you.

If he is comfortable with programming, a 3pi or Arduino would be great. I am 12, and I was able to get a basic program running on my 3pi the day I got it. Otherwise, a LEGO Mindstorms kit would be fine.


We do not consider our 3pi robot to be a good “entry level” robot, especially for someone as young as your son. Unless he is comfortable with C programming (or you are and can help teach him), I would look for something that has more resources devoted to beginners, such as detailed tutorials that will help him get started programming, easy-to-follow sample projects, etc. I don’t have much experience with them, but I think the LEGO Mindstorms kits might be more appropriate, or you could consider something like Parallax’s Scribbler 2. The 3pi is intended more as a higher-performance step up from beginner robots for those that have already gained some experience and need less hand-holding.

You might also check out some of our electronics kits (the Elenco 75/200/500-in-one electronic project labs might be very interesting and educational for him) or our Tamiya robot kits, which don’t require any soldering (but also do not involve programming). Finally, he might enjoy the Arduino inventor’s kit, which would walk him through a bunch of fun projects centered around the Arduino and the kit’s included components. This might be a good way for him to get more familiar with C and with electronics.

Good luck finding a great gift for your son, and happy holidays!

- Ben