Technology Director Makes Top Picks For Best Tech Gifts

Maumee City Schools’ director of technology Jason Dugan picked his top tech gifts for children this holiday season, including an mBot smart robot kit and a 3-D pen. MIRROR PHOTO BY NANCY GAGNET

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — With all the choices for gift giving this year, especially when it comes to kids’ technology, finding the right item for the best price can be a challenge.

To help make it easier, Maumee City Schools’ director of technology Jason Dugan has picked out his favorite tech items for gift buying this season:

First up is the Makeblock mBot Robot Kit, which Dugan said is appropriate for kids beginning in the fourth grade.

“We actually use this for students from fourth grade to the high school,” said Dugan.

Priced at approximately $80.00, the robot is a great starting system for simple block coding. With motion and light sensors included, kids can modify the robot in a number of different ways to make it do a number of different things, he said.

“They can do anything they want with it – like building little courses and then having the robot actually go through it,” Dugan said. “The choice is unlimited.” 

Also on the list is the Interactive Aura Drone with Glove Controller for children ages 6 and up.

At approximately $80.00, the drone is piloted with a glove instead of a controller. With the drone, the movement of your hand going left to right, opening or closing will control the drone’s movements.

“You can actually fly the drone easier with this,” Dugan said. 

Another pick is the SAM Labs Science Museum Inventor Kit, which supports the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) initiative. Equipped with little parts and motors, the kit uses block coding to create games, machines and activities. Priced at approximately $120, Dugan said the kit offers children ages 10 and up a lot of great options.

“It’s a really neat little kit and it lasts a really long time,” he said.

Also on the list is the Monoprice MP Mini Delta 3-D Printer. At a cost of approximately $160, the printer makes 3-D printing at home very affordable.

Kids can also access online software to create designs and at approximately $30.00, the filament used in the printer will last a very long time, Dugan said.

“It’s perfect for your house and your computer can plug right into it,” he said. “Kids from third grade on up can learn basic things on it.”

The 3-D pen is another tech pick this year. The pen is appropriate for children ages 5 and up. The cost of approximately $50.00 includes the pen plus 12 different filament colors to use in the pen.

“You can do all kinds of things with it. It’s a neat STEAM craft idea,” Dugan said.

The Anki Cozmo robot also made the list. Priced at approximately $130.00, the robot can be used by children ages 5 and up. Dugan picked it because it can be coded to play games and interact with children, and it has artificial intelligence included in its system.

“So it can actually play games with you and learn from your personality how it’s going to act,” he said.

The HP X360 Chromebook was selected for children ages 6 and up. Priced at a cost of $200, the Chromebook has a touchscreen that can serve as both a tablet or a Chromebook with a keyboard.

For kids who love to record music, the Home Recording Studio Bundle allows children ages 12 and up to use a headphone, microphone and mixer box to create music. Priced at just over $300, this is the most expensive gift.

“I know a lot of kids are into recording their own music. This is a nice little bundle for them to put together to use,” Dugan said.

For links to each item, you may access the following online: 

• mBot robot:

• Interactive drone:

• SAM Labs inventor kit:

• 3-D printer:

• Anki Cozmo robot:

• HP X360 Chrome-book:

• Recording studio bundle:

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