This post is the third post in my series “STEM toys for Kids that Parents Will Love.” Find the previous posts below.
Introducing the HEXBUG VEX Robotics Orbit Kit: a gear-based model that creates the motion of the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun.
HEXBUG VEX Robotics is a company that creates robotics toys for kids of all ages. HEXBUG products are geared toward younger kids. You may have seen these little bug-like robots at the mall.
HEXBUG VEX Robotics products are designed for a slightly older crowd. The HEXBUG VEX Robotics Orbit Kit came with over 250 connector pieces including traditional spur gears, bevel gears, and a gear box.
I was able to follow the directions given and put the model together within a couple hours. I don’t have much experience putting models together (okay, fine I have absolutely no experience), but I was able to complete it as directed and it works seamlessly. However, know that it’s a complex process and close attention to detail is crucial, or else it won’t work.
There are many STEM lessons that can be taught/learned with this product. First, gears and gear ratios can be better understood after putting this project together. This product uses two main gears.
Spur Gears: These are the most common type of gears and are placed right next to each other on parallel shafts.
Bevel Gears: These gears are typically placed perpendicular to each other. They’re used when the direction of rotation needs to be changed.
By carefully putting this model together, your child can understand the purpose of gears and how they can be used. You can teach them the concept of a gear train (two or more connected gears) and a gear ratio. A gear ratio is something that can be precisely calculated by counting the number of spokes on the driven gear (typically the last gear in the train) and dividing that by the number of spokes on the drive gear (typically the first gear in the train)
Where Can I Buy This?
The VEX Robotics Orbit Kit is around $60 and can be purchased on Amazon (click the "Buy on Amazon" button)