Smart Review | Root Robot

By Mary Ryerse & Luke Ryerse

How cool is it when a kid can code and get a robot to work with ZERO adult support? That’s what happened when Luke’s Root Robot arrived in the mail.

For context, Root Robotics is the creator of a code-teaching robot named Root. Since we ran a blog just over two years ago on our experience, the company is demonstrating a true commitment to living out what it stands for:

“Our mission is to make learning to code accessible to any age. We believe robots are the best way to engage in the journey of how digital stuff really works. And our promise is to make learning this way as easy as opening an app.” – Root Robotics

About the Root Robot

So who is Root and what can Root do? Described as “a little robot with a lot of possibilities,” Root is “an educational robot that teaches coding, creativity and problem-solving skills to kids from pre-readers through high school.” Root Robotics claims there isn’t a comparable product on the market that grows with the learner and can be used in such a way by any age or skill level. And certainly not one of its kind that can crawl across walls! That’s right, the robot is able to stick to and move across magnetic whiteboard walls, and the included whiteboard is a great medium for students and teachers to share the coded artwork or games they have created.

The robot itself has over 50 sensors and actuators to help it recognize its surroundings, respond to touch and have the capabilities to draw, erase, scan, react, see, hear, feel, play music and much more.

Through the Root Coding app, the user can advance their coding skills through the level 1, 2 and 3 coding interfaces which take the user through graphical, computational and full-text coding. Level 1 focuses on essential logic skills of coding; level 2 introduces an advanced interface and introduces new concepts such as variables, logic, math and sensor values; and level 3 consists of full-text coding, advanced algorithms and teaches the user to use professional coding language like Swift. The app has features such as a project manager to save coded projects, featured exemplary projects and a help menu.

Through Root Academy, accessible through the app for $4.99 per month, children and parents alike can access new learning content every month and access subscriber-only learning worlds, integrated games and simulation modules.

Luke’s Perspective

Here’s what Luke had to say about his experience with Root Robot:

I took these steps to get started:

  1. Unbox the robot: It was fun and easy to open up the box and see a new robot staring back at me.
  2. Download Root Coding app: I used my phone to go to the app store and easily found the app.
  3. Create an account: This was optional, but I did it.
  4. Charge Root Robot: I plugged the robot into the wall and charged for about 20 minutes.
  5. Make a new project: I pressed the play button to pair my root. (You must do this every time you use root.)
  6. Code: I began to code!

What I like:

  • In-person, live action. I liked that I was able to see my coding come to life physically and could see Root move around and do something, rather than see something on a screen.
  • Easy entry. You can get it up and running in 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Variety. It has variations of different coding systems.
  • Multifunctional. There are many things you can do with a simple robot. You can use it at home or in the classroom.
  • Portable. It’s easy to transport around with you.

In summary, I recommend that people find a way to put Root Robot in classrooms across the world. I would recommend it to people who want to be computer scientists and other people interested in code. Of all the coding options, this is one you can truly benefit from because you get to take it home, plug it in, light it up and see interesting things happen.

Mom’s Perspective

Of all the STEM, coding and robot-related projects Luke and I have ever explored together, this is the first time he took it out of the box and used it all by himself. Their tagline is “the only real limit is curiosity” and I think I have to agree.

I asked my husband, and he said: “This seemed like something you can learn from and see the fruits of your labor.”

This is a fun easy and HIGHLY visible way to learn how to draw the connection between coding and robots. In other words, there’s nothing quite like seeing your code come to life in “3D” form. While it’s great to see the result of code on a screen, it’s even better when you see the result off a screen (e.g. on the robot drawing pad). The Root Robot can also be a way to teach in its ways of flashing lights, marker mode etc.

More About Root Robotics

The creator of the Root Robot, Root Robotics, has been able to fulfill or get started on much of what they hoped to with the funding raised through their Kickstarter campaign. Plans included adding accessories and enhancing Root’s capabilities – like adding a camera for vision programming, a communication module to allow multiple Roots to communicate with each other and a drive-in charging station.

In the last couple years, the company also set up headquarters just down the street from Harvard, with whom they have a licensing agreement and have created a space where parents, educators and others are encouraged to make an appointment to explore Root through an in-person “test drive.”

Additionally, the Root Coding app that corresponds with the robot has come a long way in terms of its user-friendliness. CEO Zivthan Dubrovsky has shared with us that the company has focused on making it even easier for a teacher with no experience to pick up a Root and start teaching how to code.

With its improved technology, Root has impressively won the 2018 CES Best Toy award from TechRadar and Best Kids Tech award from Tom’s Guide. They might have won our vote for best as well.

Read more:

A sample product was provided to the author for this review. If you are interested in having review your innovative product or book, please contact [email protected].

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