Codey Rocky At-a-Glance
Cost: ~$100 (here's an Amazon link to check current prices)
Age Range: 6+ (but our 8 year old is too old, but our 4 year old loves it)
Software: App based (iOS or Android)
Our overall impression: We like the Codey Rocky
The Codey Rocky is made by MakeBlock, the same people who made the mBot Ranger robot that we reviewed earlier and LOVED. The Codey Rocky is geared towards younger audiences with an emphasis on the software/programming side. I have seen teachers online use the Codey Rocky in high school classrooms, showing that the programming schemes can grow to much older ages. I'll go in depth after the jump, but for readers who just want the nuts and bolts, here is our Cliff Notes review.
Pros: What we like about the Codey Rocky robot:
- Various levels of programming available
- Fun, interactive programming games in the app
- Visual displays that kids can alter
- Comes with a slate of internal sensors
- Can build upon the Codey Rocky base
What we don't like about the Codey Rocky:
- Doesn't teach the hardware side (aka, it's a giant black box)
- Doesn't work with Chromebooks (so not ideal in most educational settings)
Overall, the Codey Rocky is a great option if you have younger kids who just want the programming experience.
Want to learn more about the Codey Rocky?
Here is a more detailed explanation if you were looking for more than just an outline.
Pros of the Codey Rocky robot:
I like the levels of programming ability in the Codey Rocky
Like the mBot Ranger, the Codey Rocky comes with an accessible app that has various levels of programming. Kids can just drive the Codey Rocky around, learning about cause and effect, control, etc. Then they can use their fingers to draw a path, which the robot will then execute. Lastly, in the app, kids can use Blocky programming to control the Codey Rocky more precisely.
I have heard that if you connect the Codey Rocky to your Windows/Apple computer via USB you should also be able to use their web-based programming suite which allows kids to grow from Blocky programming to Python script, but I haven’t tried this yet. I really like that the programming side can grow as a child is ready, allowing the robot to provide more than just a few days of fun.
I like the interactive games in the app that teach basic programming
Kids love games, and the MakeBlock team has definitely gameified the process of learning Blocky. Kids can unlock different levels and earn new blocks of code for future programs. Of course, on the flip side, everything is gamified now…AtoZ reading, Gigi Math, social studies… I also wonder how effective the strategy is for not only long-term learning but also for the development of critical thinking skills. And yet, to teach, you need the audience to be present. You can see that I’m a bit torn on this, but ultimately I put it in the PRO column.
We like the visual display you can change on the Codey Rocky
My youngest loves art, so the ability to change the face of the Codey Rocky was great. She creates a series of emotions that go with sounds which make her giggle. My older daughter programmed the Codey Rocky sot he press of a button would make the Codey Rocky flash “GOAL” across her face and go into a little dance. This comes in handy when we play robot soccer. I feel like the celebration might be worth a yellow card, but that is for an entirely different discussion.
I like the onboard internal sensors of the Codey Rocky
The Codey (which is the cat-like face piece of the robot) has an IR receiver and transmitter, voice and light sensors, a speaker, and buttons that kids can use to help the Codey Rocky interact with our world. The Rocky (which is the bottom tank-like piece) is fitted with an IR proximity sensor, which helps the Codey Rocky from crashing into walls, and also allows it to become a line following robot.
I like that you can build upon the Codey Rocky Base
You can merge the Codey Rocky with Lego bricks or other similar types of building blocks. I think this is a cool way to customize the Codey Rocky and engage kids to use the robot on a more long term basis. Is also allows you to create additional challenges, like adding a hockey stick to the side.
Cons of the Codey Rocky robot:
I don’t like that the Codey Rocky is a giant black box
Sure, kids are getting some cool hands-on programming with the Codey Rocky, but there is no hands-on building. I think, in general, we think that younger kids cant build things when in reality they are perfectly capable with a screwdriver, some nuts, and bolts, maybe even a wrench. I think it’s a huge disservice that some many of the robotic toys on the market for kids has absolutely no building required.
That is what I find to be one of the biggest pros to both the mBot Ranger and the OTTO robot. While both have their own drawbacks, they both allow kids to actually build a robot as well as interact through software. The way we are leaving the hardware creation to high school or college is going to leave us with a ton of people who are overly prepared in the software side, and underprepared in hardware. Basically, any robotic toy for kids that doesn’t involve building as at least some part of it will have this on my list of cons.
I don’t like that Chromebooks aren’t supported with the Codey Rocky
The people over at MakeBlock have been saying for a while now that there will be an ability to use the Codey Rocky with Chromebooks soon. That “soon” has yet to come. Back in June or July, they were saying about 3 months, and now I think it might be off their slate entirely. That, for me, is a major con. Chromebooks are THE computer of the classroom. And to be honest, when my kids have access to a computer, it is always the chromebook which is easily replaceable if there is an accident. The fact that the Codey Rocky can’t interface with chromebooks is a major bummer both for teachers, and families like me who would love to use our large touch screen Chromebooks for a better Blocky experience.