Review of the VEX Robotics Arm from Hexbug (Available at Best Buy)

You're going to be hearing a lot about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) from us in the coming months and years... Why? Because I just believe it is so important for kids to embrace! One way that we've found to get kids excited is to allow them some really awesome, open-ended play options. Building and using robotics is one such way.

We had the absolute joy to review the VEX Robotics Arm from Hexbug. (You are probably already familiar with the Hexbug brand; they make the very clever and engaging Nano toys.)

This kit is a whopping 350 Vex Robotics pieces. and the projectsincluded meet CPSIA standards. While the kit itself is not electronic, you can easily buy an add-on motor to make it fully automated. There are also options to build the arm (as shown), and two other configurations: chopper and scorpion!

This product is designed for kids 8 and up, and I really believe that to be true. My 12-year-old did manage to put it together all by himself in about an hour, but he had issues getting the arm to move in a certain spot; we went through it with him and find a place that he had inserted a piece backwards. So, while a 14-year-old is probably more able to do this alone, I would have no issue allowing a younger child to do this project, especially with an older adult helping.

The arm itself can raise objects up to 14 inches by turning a knob; it can also extend out to 10 inches by using another dial. With a bottom designed like a crane, it can also rotate all the way around, giving kids a wide range of area to work with. We used it to pick up objects of all sizes, including toys. I think that our favorite part was the build, however.

By playing with the completed arm, kids get a better idea of how robot arms work, the physics behind levers and basic construction techniques, and how arms and robots can be used in every day life -- from surgery to manufacturing! If nothing else, the process of building the arm will generate a great discussion on the importance of STEM learning; perhaps you can use it to design an at-home course in how robotics help us live better lives every day!

Get this product at Best Buy, for just $49.99.

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.