Could this hi-tech Norfolk robot become 2018’s most wanted children’s toy?
- Credit: Archant
From PlayStations to iPads, children are known for wanting to get their hands on all the latest gadgets and gizmos.
But now a groundbreaking new robot made by a King's Lynn firm which teaches tech-savvy youngsters about the world of computer coding could be about to make its way to the top of their wish lists.
Botley has already received a rapturous welcome since being launched at the prestigious London Toy Fair this week.
Designed and made by Learning Resources in King's Lynn, the small two-wheeled robot – which costs £79 in the shops – can be programmed by children to perform an array of movements and actions.
The aim is that children learn the basics of coding and programming machines to do what they want, while also having fun.
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But Learning Resources managing director Dennis Blackmore believes the creation could help to spark the imaginations of the next generation of engineers and computer programmers.
The experts certainly think so – it was picked by British Toy and Hobby Association as one of the most exciting and innovative products at the 2018 London Toy Fair, winning the Toy Fair Hero Award.
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It also took a star turn on television, featuring on BBC Breakfast's coverage of the event.
'We believe children learn best by getting their hands dirty,' said Mr Blackmore.
'You have to physically interact with something – that's how they learn best.
'There's research that shows most children, by the time they have got to secondary school, have made up their minds about which subjects they like and don't like.
'We decide in primary school whether we like maths or not, for example.
'We're trying to make programming more attractive to so they don't get turned off by the subject. It's really important to catch children when they're young.
'All the technology we use and take for granted has its roots in programming. If we can spark that interest at a young age, that will grow.
Botley is designed to be used by children as young as five and is screen-free. It also does not require the use of a smartphone or tablet.
'We are delighted that both the Toy Fair and BBC Breakfast recognised Botley's special qualities and potential,' Mr Blackmore added.
'Botley is both fun and educational in the tradition of all our toys and games at Learning Resources.
'Botley's usefulness grows as the child's learning grows.'
Learning Resources was founded in 1984 in Chicago but Mr Blackmore founded the UK, European, Middle Eastern and African arm of company 10 years later from his home in West Norfolk.
The King's Lynn office is now based on the North Lynn Industrial Estate.