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Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013

My Robot Friend

Bad guys and fat cat humor introduce STEM skills

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
2-6
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)
4

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: Quick challenges keep kids engaged while building the logical thinking skills needed for programming.

Cons: Fat Cat is an annoying villain and can be hard to understand at times.

Bottom Line: My Robot Friend is a fun, easy way for kids to start thinking and acting like programmers.

Elementary-age kids get a great introduction to the logic involved in programming in a fun, story-like game. Use My Robot Friend to expose kids to logical STEM-thinking. Have kids analyze the strategy they used and evaluate if another strategy would have been more efficient. Let kids fail. And then let them use what they learned from the failed attempt to create a better, more successful solution. Each device can host up to four profiles, and kids can customize their avatar, including taking their own picture to use. With 80 levels of challenges, every kid in the class can be appropriately challenged and advance through the levels at his or her own pace.

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Kids direct their robot friend through mazes to a treasure chest by programming his moves step by step. They get ribbons as rewards after they complete each round, and can unlock fun mini-games -- like dance parties where they can program the music and moves for their robot and advanced programming challenges where they save monkeys. Kids work with directionality, adding steps, and negative numbers as they plan the best way to get the robot to the treasure and avoid the obstacles. The frequent rewards that let kids earn currency to buy costumes for their robot and the seriously fun mini-games help keep kids motivated to keep playing. Though the puzzles start off easy enough, the challenge grows steadily.

Teachers and parents may find the fat cat villain annoying, but kids might get a kick out of him. He is sarcastic and loud, though hard to understand, and he burps as he gorges on cheese. The burping option is off as a default but can be turned on as an option in the settings. The mild violence includes shooting stuffed animals and freezing other robots temporarily but isn't graphic or shocking.

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In My Robot Friend, kids learn by doing. Dragging the moves or direction or weapon into place for their robot creates a script for their robot to follow, just as they'd write when coding programs. Kids get immediate feedback by seeing the robot complete their instructions, and can undo any missteps and try again until they get it right. The app keeps the rewards and feedback constant. Kids get ribbons after they complete levels and can spend the coins they earn to buy more costumes and accessories for their robot. The mini-games, which are unlocked as rewards, are really cool. Kids can make their robot dance at a dance party, lead a spelling bee, or save monkeys -- all while further practicing their programming skills.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

The challenges are fun, and the constant rewards -- from new costumes to fun mini-games -- will keep kids engaged. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Drag-and-drop cards give kids options without overwhelming them and ease them into the world of programming. Kids will learn to plan ahead and use the tools they are given in the best way.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Kids get multiple do-overs, if necessary, to figure out how to program their robot. Once they've mastered a level, they unlock the next challenge.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

5
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews)
Featured review by
Stephan W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Sequoia Middle School
Pleasant Hill, CA
5
Helpful for introducing robot programming to 6th graders

Many of my students think of robots as a Transformer or a R/C car. Having a app as easy as this one for students to be engaged with is a great transition tool

Read full review