The Botley 2.0 STEM coding robot encourages creative thinking through a programable remote. Rated for kids ages 5+.

If your family is anything like mine, we struggle with limiting screen time.  With children aged 11, 8, 5, 19mo, there are days that we have to try to reanimate our iPad Zombies.  Luckily, new pieces of tech come along that make this process a little easier. The Botley 2.0 Coding Robot arrived in an 8 inches long by 6 inches wide by 6 inches tall retail package.  I found my eyes drawn to the large cute blue robot on the cover, but my wife immediately noticed the green semicircle along the bottom right with “100% screen-free” emblazoned onto the cover.   We loved the blue-colored Botley 2.0 rolling robot and his orange/silver eyes.  They did a good job with the blue on blue color scheme by adding a rim of white surrounding the robot.  Along the top left of the panel you will see the Learning Resources logo and along the top right you will see a STEM logo and a logo for ages 5+. The top panel provided essentially the same material as the cover panel but provided additional screen-free information.  The left and right side panels provided the same header information but added additional images and text to add to the experience.  The product is ready to use out of the box and should have children playing/coding within minutes.  I really appreciated the right side panel and the “about us” section.

Turning to the back panel, I was excited to find a pictorial representation of the Botley 2.0, the orange/blue face, the blue/orange arms, the coding cards and a text description below.  As my 5-year old daughter is getting ready for Kindergarten, this was a fun experience for her to sound out some of the words present on the box.  Beneath the content description, the company provided four circular pictures: 1. 100% Screen-free remote programmer. 2. 150 Coding steps in six directions. 3. Night vision with light-up eyes.  4. Advanced obstacle detection.  Lastly, the bottom panel provided the product contents in Spanish, French, and German. Opening the lid, we removed the clear plastic blister pack housing the remote control and Botley 2.0 robot.  Beneath the robot/controller, we found a thin plastic bag with numerous instruction cards, a pair of orange arms, a pair of blue arms, a blue face cover for the Botley robot (orange face came preinstalled), and a Botley 2.0 the coding robot Activity Guide.  The bottom half of the box was filled with a hollow cardboard wrap.  It appears that the box size was made larger to accommodate the graphics on the packaging.  Before opening the blister pack with robot/controller, we excitedly turned to the multi-lingual Activity Guide for instructions.  The cover of the manual displayed the friendly robot and controller.  The device was intended for children over the age of five, specifically for grades Kindergarten and up.  The first seven pages of the manual were geared toward the English language.  The second section was written in Spanish, the third was written in French, and the final section was written in German.  

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The hardest part of the review was keeping the pieces out of my children’s hands while learning about their new toy.  I had to reign in their enthusiasm a little until we learned more about how to code the robot, how to clear the coding, and how the functions worked.  The first page of the manual provided a salutation from the company and thanked the user for their purchase.  Beneath this section, you will find the packaging contents, a detailed diagram of the Botley 2.0 robot, and instruction manual.  The robot will require three AAA batteries and the controller will require two AAA batteries, which were not included. The 10.89-ounce blue and orange robot had the face of Wall-E, or for those a little older you may remember “Batteries Not Included” and Johnny Five from “Short Circuit.”  My son Daniel removed the battery panel on the back of the controller, installed two AAA batteries, and then reinstalled the battery panel.  Concurrently, my son Samuel completed the battery installation on the Botley 2.0 Robot.  

The robot measured 3 3/8 inches long by 5 7/16 inches wide by 2 5/8 inches tall.  The front of the robot had two large eyes with 5/8 inches diameter pupils and 1 1/2 inches diameter silver irises (color part of the eye).  Each of the 2 1/2 inches diameter wheels were coated with grey rubber material with a circuit board texture/appearance.  We were a little uncertain if we had all of the product pieces when we did not find the orange face inside of the packaging.  When my five-year-old daughter noted that the face was already on the robot, we all had a little chuckle.  The body of the robot was dark blue, while the hubs of the wheels were a lighter blue color.  Just beneath the eyes, you will find two 1/2 inches diameter arm ports. Lastly, along the top of the robot, you will find a light sensor with a plastic sliding cover, the black-colored IR remote receiver, and a 3/4 inches diameter grey-colored stop button.  

The remote measured 3 7/8 inches wide by 2 5/8 inches tall by 1 1/8 inches thick.  The central blue-colored remote matched the robot and the lighter blue edges matched the hubs of the wheels.  Starting from the top, you will find the large light blue transmit button.  Beneath the transmit button, you will find a 3×2 array of buttons. The top row had buttons to code the following: 1. Turn left 45 degrees (L45). 2. Forward (F). 3. Turn Right 45 degrees (R45).  The bottom row had buttons coding for the following:  1. Turn Left (L). 2. Back (B). 3. Turn Right (R).  Along the right side of the remote, you will find a light button, sound button, and clear button.  Along the left side of the remote you will find a loop button, and object detection button.  I slid the power button of the robot into the “code” position and the robot came to life; the robots eyes illuminated and it greeted us with a robotic “hi.”  To test out the features, my eleven-year-old son pressed the forward button and then the transmit button.  We found that the robot moved forward approximately 8 inches.  We pressed forward again, pressed transmit again, and found that the previous code was still present.  Now, the robot went forward another sixteen inches.  We placed him back on the starting position and then read the getting started section of the manual.  Pressing the clear button was not enough to eliminate the code.  Instead, you will need to press and hold the button.  This was actually an ingenious feature as my kids likely pressed the erase button a dozen times while trying to press the turn right button.  Thus, they did not erase all of their code. 

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The manual was well laid out and did a great job detailing the bonus features and the secret codes, which proved to be hilarious to my children.  The manual will detail how to clear/delete the steps and then walks you through some simple coding.  The first step was to press forward and transmit, as we tried initially.  The robot will light up and make noises to alert the user that the code was received.  The second program instructed the user to enter forward, forward, right, right, forward, transmit.  With the basics down, the instruction manual provided instructions for the loop feature and object detection modes.   As an example of the object detection, you can press F, F, F, Object Detection, R, F, L, then Transmit.  This sequence will start once Botley 2.0 runs into an object.  Holding the light button, the robot will play a short melody and allow you to enter a color show.  In that mode, the robot’s eyes illuminated with the color that we coded.  Once the basics were learned, the fun truly began.  The device has a  “Botley Says” mode as well. To enter the mode, press F, R, B, L, and then transmit.  You will have to press the correct color on the remote and then transmit to let Botley know that you were paying attention.  Complete 15 steps and you can win that match.  We started to play this, but my children found the secret codes. 

Once they realized they could make Botley 2.0 perform tricks like a train, shark, construction crew, police, dinosaur, ghost, kiss, old lighthouse, rabbit, yikes, greetings, whee!, Botley is dizzy, it was difficult to get them back to solving the missions that I created for them.  Using the lids to our pots/pans, I created several obstacle courses that they had to navigate.  They used the programming cards to remember the actions and had a few turns to get the robot to perform a set of activities. My five-year-old daughter absolutely loved the ghost mode, as it wheeled around making ghost noises.  All of them got a kick out of the kiss mode.  The other special moves provided variable excitement for them. The last mode that we played with was the line follow mode.  Setting the robot to line mode, it will follow a sharpie line on white paper, which was an interesting add-on.  

In conclusion, my children absolutely loved the Botley 2.0 STEM programming robot.  We created obstacles to overcome, we played with the line mode, and used the secret codes.  Despite all of the exciting features, I could not believe that this product was available for only $65.  I initially thought that the 5+ age range and semi-juvenile robotic features would be a turn-off for my eleven-year-old, but I could not have been more wrong.  He wanted to create challenges for himself and his siblings, and he showed pride when he got flashy with spins.  The device proved to be rugged enough to survive an attack by my 19-month-old, yet entertaining enough to keep the focus of my 5, 8, and 11-year-old children.  If you are looking for an inexpensive family fun activity, look to the Learning Resources Botley 2.0.  You will not regret the purchase. 

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