We recently had a new robot friend join our household – Dash from Wonder Workshop. Not only is he an easy to use remote controlled robot but he can also teach children how to code and has a variety of accessories available. He is simple enough to use that Kindergarteners can operate him, but has enough capabilities that my 5th grader enjoys programming him too. I tested him with my 11 year-old son and 8 year-old son and daughter, and they all love him. We tested Dash using an iPad, but he is also compatible with a variety of Android devices.
Dash has 2 main drive wheels and a smaller turning wheel making him surprisingly maneuverable. His head moves independently and he has lights on his front, back, both sides of his head and around his eye. The light colors and brightness can be independently controlled. He has proximity sensors, a microphone and speakers. He runs off a re-chargeable battery which gives about 5 hours of play between charges and is charged via an included USB/ mini-USB cable.
Dash comes with with 4 free apps- Go, Path, Blockly and Xylo (you need the Xylophone accessory to use Xylo so I did not test this app). .
Go is the simplest to use, the best place to start for everyone and the app best suited to young users. Go has an easy to use remote control for moving Dash, you can control his speed and direction just by moving your finger on the control panel. You can also move his head up, down and side to side and customize his light display both for his eye and body lights. He has built-in sound effects and motions you can use with a touch of a picture icon and you can record up to 5 custom voice recordings. Go also contains a video of Dash’s story and a link to the Wonder website page with ideas and challenges to do with Dash.
Go for Dash & Dot robots – for iPad by WONDER WORKSHOP, INC.
PLEASE NOTE: This app requires a Wonder Workshop robot – Dash or Dot – and a supported Bluetooth Smart/4-enabled iPad to play. To find out more, please visit our website: https://http://www.makewonder.com or.
In Path you learn to navigate Dash around 3 different scenes- a racetrack, a farm and city. In each scene there are a variety of challenges and as you succeed in completing them you unlock tools to use in free play mode. When playing in Path it is good to have a large open area to navigate Dash through. He will follow the path your draw on the screen so you need to make sure there are no real life obstacles in his way. Using your unlocked tools you can have Dash perform a variety of sound effects and actions n different places on his path. As you get more skilled at creating paths you can add real life obstacles and draw his path in a way that he will avoid them.
Path for Dash robot by WONDER WORKSHOP, INC.
PLEASE NOTE: This app requires the Wonder Workshop robot, Dash, and a supported Bluetooth Smart/4-enabled device to play. To find out more, please visit our website: https://http://www.makewonder.com or an .
Blocky allows the user to move on from using pre-created tools with Dash to programming him themselves. Blockly is a drag and drop programming language created by Google and is simple enough that kids from around 8 years old can use it. The app has a variety of different command codes organized into 4 categories: look, light, sound and control. Within the commands many can be customized e.g. turn right 15 degrees or move forward 20 cm at slow speed, and the 2 drive wheels can be programmed individually.
You can start out very simply e.g. When you push Dash’s button #2 he will move forward 50 cm fast, and progress to complex multi-step directions. Using Dash’s sensors you can have fun programing him to react to different stimuli. My son programmed him so that anytime you pick him up he squeals , moves his head, flashes his lights and says “put me down.”
Blockly for Dash & Dot robots by WONDER WORKSHOP, INC.
PLEASE NOTE: This app requires a Wonder Workshop robot – Dash or Dot – and a Bluetooth Smart/4-enabled device to play. To find out more, please visit our website: https://http://www.makewonder.com or an Apple.
Dash has 6 different attachment points on his head and body where you can attach his accessories. He comes with 2 Building Brick Connectors and variety of optional accessories are available including more building brick connectors, a smartphone mount, a xylophone, tow hook and bulldozer mount. Wonder workshop also make another robot, Dot, who can be used with Dash. We did not test Dot or any of the accessories except the brick connectors.
I loved the extra creativity the building brick connectors gives to playing with Dash. They are compatible with Lego and similar bricks and allow attachment of not only standard bricks but also Lego Technic rods. It’s really fun to see what extra “costumes” or accessories the kids will build for Dash. The Wonder Workshop website has lots of creative ideas on ways to use Dash, puts out a free digital magazine and sets regular challenges, which helps to keep kids creating and finding new ways to program and play with Dash.
For a recent challenge on Mothers Day my older son built a Lego box for Dash to carry, placed inside it an origami flower he had made made, and had Dash deliver it to me and say “Happy Mother’s Day.” A current programming challenge involves creating a drawing machine for Dash from Lego Technics (all the directions are provided) and programming him to write and draw – I’m planning to get my boy working on that as soon as school ends this week!
All 3 of my kids and I just love Dash! He can be enjoyed by a huge age range – from age 5 right up to adults. He is easy to use right out of the box, but you can also use him to teach the child to program using Blockly. Once the child understands the basics of programming they can use their imagination to program him to do all kinds of things. I love that the folks at Wonder Workshop keep updating their challenges and ideas on how to play as it inspires my kids to find ever more creative ways to play with Dash. The Brick connectors are a brilliant idea – my kids love Lego and have a huge number of different kinds of bricks at home and with Dash they can build Lego creations that move, talk and react to their surroundings!
Dash is one toy that I will be encouraging my kids to play with this summer break- not only is he a lot of fun and teaches them STEM concepts, but he also encourages them to think, learn and create. My only problem is with 3 kids they all want to play with him at once!
Dash is available from WonderWorkshop.com, Amazon and RRP $169