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KaiBot in Kainundrum Review by Lisa McKinney

Bruce Jackson
+64 9 281 4206
2/10 Ben Lomond Crescent
Pakuranga, Auckland, 2010, New Zealand
Kai's Education

For the last several weeks, we've been exploring the wonders of KaiBot in Kainundrum, a creation from Kai's Education. KaiBot is a small coding robot designed to help teach and learn coding in a fun and engaging way. The robot is designed to work in a hybrid manner allowing for screen-free coding or paired with the Kainundrum app or online to create an immersive virtual environment. 

The KaiBot starter pack retails at $270.99 and comes with a KaiBot, a set of advanced coding cards, a set of 1-10 KaiTiles, and an EResource book. In addition, I received the KaiBot Autonomous charging dock ($44.95) for my review. According to the website, this product is designed for students in grades K-8, but it can be used by ages 6-555. 

While the starter pack is recommended, it is possible to use the KaiBot ($97.50) itself without the rest of the items in the starter pack. Additionally, there is the Kainundrum lite app version of the full online version of Kainundrum available for tablets iOS, Android, or Chromebook. The app and the website are free.

The KaiBot is designed for any student interested in coding, and my twelve-year-old son has recently become very interested in it. Earlier this year, he completed a nine-week coding class right before we received the KaiBot this summer. When he learned the KaiBot was for coding, he immediately went for the box to explore it. The Kaibot isn't a curriculum but a toy that is also a tool for giving hands-on experience in beginning coding. This means that it would work in any home if there were someone who would enjoy an interactive coding experience. 

The product is very much an explore-as-you-go experience. I opened the different parts before my son dove into it to understand its use. One thing that I noticed was that there weren't any paper directions. Every box in the starter set has a QR code that you can scan for a pdf of directions. I found this annoying because it requires a device to read QR codes to know how to use the product. Once I scanned the codes, the directions were readily available, and I could print them. My son read all the directions and figured out how to operate the KaiBot once we charged it. 

The coding comes in the form of a deck of cards. Each card has an aspect of code on one side and a description of what that code does on the other. My son read all the backs of the cards first before getting started. The process itself is simple. Use the coding cards to lay out a sequence of code that you want the KaiBot to complete, then turn the KaiBot on and have it scan each code in order. Once this line of code has been entered into the KaiBot, it will perform the actions programmed by the codes. 

Some code cards are directions like "turn right by 90 degrees" or "move backward by one tile length." The actions can be placed in nearly any order when they are between the Record Program Start and Record Program End cards. 

Once we played with the coding cards included in the KaiBot box, we opened and added in the advanced coding cards. The 100 advanced coding cards include more movement, logic, functions, repeat, conditionals, variables, SEL, color, and more. They also offer more options for anyone syncing it with the online program. 
The KaiBot easily runs the sequence on a hard floor. Before programming it to the magnetic tiles, we tested it on our hardwood floors. Adding the magnetic tiles increases the complexity of getting the code correct. Using the tiles, we created a path for the KaiBot to run if we programmed the code correctly. This meant that much critical thinking had to occur before we scanned the code. It also meant we made mistakes in the code for what we wanted it to do. 

After my son played with the KaiBot on the floor, then with the tiles, we decided to try synching it with the Kainundrum lite app on my iPhone. Using Bluetooth, we could have the app and KaiBot talk to each other. The app gives you games you can play with your KaiBot, like a maze. The app tells you how to set up your magnetic tiles for the maze to complete. Next, it gives you your goal to achieve. Finally, it tells you to use your coding cards to program the KaiBot with actions to reach the goal. Once this has been done, it shows your KaiBot character on the app doing what you told it to do. 

We have not explored the full online version of Kainundrum yet, but my son is interested in exploring it later. For now, he's content to play around with just the KaiBot itself and the magnetic tiles with the app on my phone.
This was an excellent experience for my son to put his recently gained coding skills to work. He loved the little robot and felt great satisfaction when he programmed it to complete a set of actions. He thought being able to program it to move on the app was very cool. His main complaint was the actual programming. You had to tap and hold the KaiBot onto each card until the KaiBot beeped, then immediately move to the next card. It took him several tries before he could input a long sequence without the KaiBot shutting down because he'd hesitated too long or moved too fast. 

I feel like the program explains itself very well, and having the actual information about the code on the code cards themselves is very convenient. Once we learned how to use the program, we didn't reference the e-books again. The coding cards allow for nearly endless combinations, and the addition of using the app makes it that much more fun. I greatly appreciate the screen-free option using the coding cards and magnetic tiles. 
The Kaibot would be an excellent gift for a STEM or coding-minded individual, especially since you can start with just the KaiBot alone. It would also be a great product to have in a science classroom or to be part of a coding course. 

We will continue to use KaiBot in Kainundrum from Kai's Education throughout our upcoming school year, but also just for fun!

-Product review by Lisa McKinney, The Old Schoolhouse® July 2023