We’ve really been enjoying our robot friends this year, with experiences with Cubetto, Boxer and Vector to draw on we’ve become rather discerning in our approach to new robot toys as there’s now such a great variety to choose from (I still maintain I’m going to get hold of a Zoomer Pony/Unicorn at some point)! This latest addition to the DadGeek robot family is a great educational set from John Adams Toys called Action Science POWER TRACKS!
Power Tracks is similar in function to Cubetto in as much as you have a cuboid robot who can be pre-programmed with a set of directional instructions which he then enacts. It’s difficult not to draw comparisons because in many ways they are extrapolations on a theme and interaction is very similar to a point. With Power Tracks, instead of a smiling wooden cube we have Volty, a smiling little techno-critter who looks a bit like a big chunky Duracell.
Instead of cueing up actions from a separate board, Volty can be directly programmed using buttons on his back. These are used to set up his route before letting him loose on his trundle. Even this alone is huge fun and it can be great to come up with preset directions for Volty to follow.
Where Power Tracks really stands out though is with the track that Volty can follow and how interacting with this track sets off a whole set of new actions. Instead of bundling Volty with a mat or a designated area to explore, Power Tracks comes with a large number of colourful jigsaw-style track pieces. Each piece designates either a direction or an action. As Volty rolls over these pieces, little sensors on his belly pick up the barcodes beneath him and it activates flashing/blinking lights, musical tunes or other actions as he passes.
The set comes with loads of suggestion cards to show you how to set up Volty’s route in loads of different ways to get the best set of effects but the real value here is in the ability to set up your own routes and see what Volty can really do!
Power Tracks strikes me as the next step in understanding computational thinking for kids. Cubetto does a great job at kickstarting that interest at a young age. Power Tracks really picks that up and puts it into a context for slightly older children to spread their wings a little and flex those brain muscles into slightly more complex applications of the same fundamental ideas.
All of our kids loved Power Tracks. It’s one of those toys where one child starts playing with it but then others notice what’s going on and soon gravitate towards it like little magnets and get stuck in! Claudia loved playing with Volty although she was too young to grasp fully how to get him to work. Morgan loved assembling the track in different configurations to see what could go together.
Power Tracks is available from Amazon.
Disclaimer: This post was produced in return for the product. No financial agreements were entered into. This post contains affiliate links.