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There is no denying that technology is the future. Everywhere we look, more and more of our daily lives are relying on computers and devices.
As parents, we all want our kids to be ready for the world, and these days, that means introducing them to technology concepts, even things like coding and programming, at a young age.
Kids learn best through hands-on, interactive play. Some of the best coding robots out there are geared toward kids to help develop the critical thinking skills used in programming.
Here are the coding robots I will be reviewing:
- Contempo Views Edison V2 Compatible Educational Robot
- Sphero RVR: All Terrain Programmable Coding Robot
- Root iRobot
- Modular Robotics Cubelets Robot Blocks
- Fisher-Price Code n Learn Kinderbot
- Robobloq Coding Robot
- Matatalab Lite: Remote Control Coding Robot
- Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot 2
- Thames & Kosmos Kids First Coding & Robotics
- Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit
- Wonder Workshop Dash
- LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3
- UBTECH JIMU: Robot Mythical Series: Firebot Kit
- Evo Robot
- UBTECH JIMU Robot Builderbots Series: Overdrive Kit
Benefits of Coding for Kids
Even if your youngster doesn’t seem super interested in STEM, exposure to coding will teach them many things they will use later in life.
Appreciation of Technology
At its core, coding is simply the method of communicating with computers. We all interact with computers on a regular basis, but to understand how they work and what is going on behind the screen gives kids an appreciation for the complexity of technology.
Develops Thinking Skills
Coding also teaches children how to think. The format and tasks develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills that kids need to approach school and daily life, not just to work with computers.
Learning to code can be frustrating. If one small thing is wrong in the program, it won’t work. However, when it does work, it’s incredibly satisfying. This type of activity is a perfect way for kids to develop perseverance and focus when it comes to any activity.
While you may think of STEM as logical and rational, there is a highly creative component to these tasks that helps kids think outside of the box. If they want a robot to complete a mission and don’t know precisely the right way, they will have to develop a unique approach to make it happen.
Even when you’re thinking of new ways to approach a solution, kids will still have to work within the rules of the programming world. This complex kind of thinking helps kids use their imagination in a way that can be applied to many real-world situations.
What to Look For
There are tons of coding robots available out there, and it can be overwhelming to figure out what your child needs. Before you make a purchase, here are a few things to consider.
From preschool to high school, there is a robot out there for your kid. Some robots are made to appeal to a wide age range, while others are developed for specific populations.
If you have multiple children or want an option that grows well with kids, it’s a good idea to get a robot that has different levels of programming and a multitude of ways to interact and play. If you’re interested in buying one just for the stage they are in, then look for toys geared to their current development only.
Believe it or not, you can buy codable robots that work without a screen. Particularly for younger kids, but also in some older models, some options use different programming methods that do not require any sort of device or app. Creative ideas such as cards, special pens, and even barcodes, are just a few screen-free ways for your child to practice coding techniques. If you would like your child to increase their educational, screen-free options at home, these are a good bet.
However, there are also tons of robots that have an accompanying app for programming and coding. These often include online tutorials to help beginners, and several have an online community to further your child’s exploration.
Technology advances quickly, so sometimes STEM toys can quickly feel behind the times. For lasting power, look for a robot with compatibility with other toys (such as LEGOs) and uses multiple programming languages or styles.
Features and Abilities
There are robots that can do it all from flashing lights and composing music to navigating obstacles and carrying objects. Too many capabilities might overwhelm younger kids, while the endless options will appeal to more advanced children and keep them from getting bored. Find the sweet spot for your kiddo before you make a purchase!
Technology toys aren’t cheap, and there is a wide range of price options available for you. No matter the age or developmental level you are buying for, you’ll have options that are either end of the price spectrum.
I suggest determining the features you want for your robot and then searching for one with those features that fits your personal budget.
My Coding Robots for Kids Reviews
To determine the best coding robots for kids of all ages, we put together reviews of some of the top contenders.
We broke the reviews down by age ranges, including a section for robots that appeal to kids of diverse ages and development.
Something for Everyone
These robots appeal to a wide range of ages, appealing to both young kids and older ones, often even adults!
The Contempo Views Edison Robot 2.0 is a fantastic programmable robot option for kids to learn at home and school.
The original set up is small, but you can use other LEGO add-ons to increase the design’s creativity and allow your imagination to take over.
As a mom, I love when toys are engineered with multiple age ranges in mind, and the Edison 2.0 fits that bill. There are three different coding languages offered, so kids can select the one that works best for them. There is an icon-based option for younger kids, while older kids can use Python, which technology classes often teach.
The Python language used by the company’s programming kit is slightly different than expected, so kids won’t be able to use Python language libraries to create their code. This is both a plus and a minus, depending on your outlook!
While the design is appealing and easy to use, the placement of the “Clear” button is perilously close to “Go” and “Stop.” This isn’t an issue for older kids, but younger ones might find themselves frustrated with slight missteps clearing their code.
The other significant note here is that the transmission of the programming is a bit unusual. You use the sound from the headphone jack to get the code from the computer to the robot. It’s easy to get the hang of, but a little outside the box!
Overall, I love the concept of the Edison 2.0. They have made some improvements on their original version, and you can tell that the design is made with kids and learning in mind.
- 3 different coding languages available
- LEGO compatible
- Downloadable updates
- Scans barcodes to learn new functions
- Free software
- Comes with downloadable lesson plans
- Includes eBooks and support documents
- Reasonably priced
- Needs a device
- Poorly placed “Clear” button
- Batteries drain quickly
- Unusual program transmission
The Sphero RVR: All Terrain Programmable Coding Robot brings all the fun of remote-controlled cars and trucks to the programming table. It is easy to assemble out of the box, and you don’t need much to make it go that first time.
With a rechargeable battery, you’ll have to plug it in to keep it moving, but at least you won’t need to buy batteries in bulk.
The programming functions for the RVR come in with the Sphero Edu app, designed to be used at home or in a classroom. While it’s a bummer that you have to have a device to really get the full coding benefits (and just drive it remotely), it also means the sky is the limit when it comes to creative play.
Sphero RVR is an open-ended programming toy. It doesn’t have the maps and missions that some of the more basic robots provide, but it does allow kids to learn and use multiple programming languages to create their own commands and directions.
Younger children will enjoy playing with the RVR as a remote control car, but older kids can use their coding skills to write a program for the vehicle. The app has project videos and provides code modules to help beginners get the basics down and apply them.
While there is a lot to love about the RVR, I think my favorite feature is that rugs, small rocks, and grime won’t be an issue. For houses that are cluttered or kids who want to play outside, this is truly an all-terrain coding robot.
- Multiple programming languages
- No complicated set-up
- Rechargeable battery
- Works on uneven surfaces
- Vector-based control system for precision
- Works for a wide age range
- Pairs well with accessories for expanded play
- Needs an app to program
- Fast motors – quick movements
The Root iRobot is a crowd-pleaser, mainly because it does a little bit of everything. This robot is extremely interactive. It responds to touch, obstacles, light, color, and sound. Basically, it’s tailor-made for children’s play!
On the outside, the iRobot looks a little bit like a mini Roomba, but kids can customize it with included stickers to give it a more personal feel. Inside, it’s full of learning opportunities and loads of fun.
There are provided projects that kids can use to get a feel for how code directs the robot to do specific commands. Once they have the basics done, they can use the app to design their own code and control the robot’s actions.
The first coding level focuses on concrete coding language, while levels 2 and 3 will help kids make the leap into more abstract and complex thinking. You can use the robot to draw geometric designs on paper, go through a maze, put on a lights show, or compose your own music.
While the capabilities are impressive and the materials are incredibly durable, the price is up there, mainly because you need a tablet, phone, or computer to do the programming portion. The app has a free mode, but for most of the features (and there are so so many) you need a subscription, adding to the total cost.
Luckily, because it is built well and has so many levels, your kids will be able to use it for several years, not just one or two. That helps make the investment worth it, especially when you also consider the incredible educational value!
- Responsive to touch, obstacles, light, color, and sound
- Extremely interactive
- 3 learning coding learning levels
- Large amount of online content available
- Fairly easy set-up
- Needs an app
- No user manual
- Only basic content available without subscription
The Modular Robotics Cubelets Robot Blocks is the perfect toy to introduce your kids to coding. Each block has software inside of it and performs a different function. By connecting the blocks and arranging them in other orders, you essentially code the blocks to do a specific task.
Like your run-of-the-mill wooden blocks, the robotic ones are also designed for open-ended play. This ability makes it less likely for your child to get bored with them after the first few minutes. You can create and recreate over and over again, moving the blocks around to get different results each time.
Of course, there is a technology aspect to this toy, but I appreciate that it can also be played without screens. In addition to the app you can add to your phone or tablet, and the console for a computer, your child can play with the blocks solo, still designing their own robot. This is especially helpful since the blocks work for the preschool age range as well as older kids. Anything a preschooler can do without my immediate help is a huge win!
As your kids get older, their interactions with the blocks will change, going from simple building and sequencing in the younger years to more complex systems thinking and parallel programming abilities as your child grows up.
The starter set of blocks is a little bit small, and it only comes with one battery block, which creates limitations. However, if your child wants to expand on their designs, you can order more blocks to fill out your collection.
- Many ways to play and assemble
- Screen-free option
- Hands-on intro to coding
- App and console options
- Appeals to many age ranges
- Designed for ages 4+
- Starter set is small
- Needs more battery blocks
Preschool and Kindergarten
Yes, even our youngest kiddos can learn the basics of coding. With amazing robots like the ones we have listed, they won’t even know they’re learning!
The Code N Learn Kinderbot from Fisher-Price feels like a Disney robot come to life. The lights, sounds, and irresistible charm of the robot will immediately draw the kids. However, there’s a lot more to this toy than that!
With three different ways to play, there is something for your child, no matter their age or level. The younger kids will enjoy pushing the buttons and listening to the different sounds, which go over shapes, numbers, and colors to help your child get ready for Kindergarten.
Older children are more likely to use the coding features, including the secret code mode, to intentionally control and direct the Kinderbot’s motions. While the commands are basic, kids will get a lot of satisfaction in the robot doing precisely what they told him to.
Some kids might find the toy too challenging to control and become uninterested in it after a few sessions. However, if you give it some time, they are likely to come back and explore it again as they age, interacting in a new and different way.
The Kinderbot needs four C batteries to run, but the batteries last a while, not necessitating a change every time they play. While a rechargeable battery would be more cost-effective, it does mean that you have one less thing to plug in! A big plus is that the Kinderbot will turn itself off after a period of activity, so you don’t have to worry about your kids always leaving him on to drain the batteries!
- Three ways to play
- Designed for ages 3-6
- Aids in Kinder readiness
- Looks like a little friend!
- Challenges kids in a positive way
- Needs batteries
- May be too much for some kids
- Not a lot of command variety
The Robobloq Coding Robot is a STEM toy in whimsical packaging, just the thing to capture a young child’s interest.
Even our youngest kids love to make things go, beep and light up, and the Robobloq snail does all three while promoting the logical thinking and problem-solving skills needed to be a successful coder.
The game works right out of the box, holding a charge for up to 5 hours of playtime. This is good news for immediate gratification, but I know that toys that need new batteries (or charging) in my house often sit inanimate after they run out of juice, so you’ll need to pay attention to the charge, so it’s always ready to play.
The addition of a booklet with training lessons, challenges, and a map you can use in Free Mode is a definite plus, allowing kids to learn more from the toy than they may with just exploration. Of course, that’s only with some parent involvement!
For those parents with multiple kids, I love that there is a multi-player option where kids can work cooperatively, keeping fights to a minimum and increasing social interaction even while the kids are playing with tech.
The major drawback of this toy is that it really is geared toward younger kids. The price is on the high end for something they will lose interest in after a year or two, but it’s not entirely out of orbit, so it could be worth the investment!
- Screen-Free play with PC option
- Ready to use right out of the box
- Mode for multiple players
- Booklet with training lessons and challenges
- Geared for kids as young as three
- Needs to charge after 5 hours playtime
- Kids will outgrow it
- Customer service is lacking
- A bit pricey for a preschool toy
The Matatalab Lite Remote Control Coding Robot is a whole lot of learning and fun packed into a tiny package. Compared to some of the other options for preschoolers, this robot is small and unassuming. There aren’t a lot of flashing lights or cute characters to get a child’s attention. However, the play options are varied and will definitely capture their interest.
The Matatalab robot has a small controller that kids use to code their missions for the robot. The controller uses directions and symbols to help children add to their recognition skills and increase hand-eye coordination through play.
The included map allows kids to create a mission and program the robot to accomplish the necessary tasks. In addition to that, kids can also compose music using different commands and race robots with a friend. They can even use the robot to draw pictures by placing a pen in the hole and dictating the movements. Each option allows for more screen-free play for your child.
You can add other sets to increase the variety of play, such as animation and sensors, so as your child grows, they can expand their designs.
This robot is all about scientific thinking and kids will learn through their play, so it’s worth the hefty price tag if your child (and you!) are interested. Luckily, since it’s geared toward younger kids, it’s well-made and durable, meaning that your child will outgrow it before it breaks, and you may even be able to hand it down to a younger sibling or friend to get more bang for your buck.
- Screenless play
- Includes challenging booklets for more advanced kids
- Pocket-sized for portability
- Ages 4+
- Well made and durable for young kids
- Interacts with low tech options
- High price point
- Nothing flashy to capture attention
Elementary Aged Robots
If your shopping for an elementary school aged child, check out the coding robots below.
Learning Resources’ Botley the Coding Robot 2.0 is the new and improved version of the original Botley robot. With added features and increased capabilities, this new Botley is really an excellent option for introducing early childhood kids to coding.
Botley 2.0 is easy to set up. Allow about 20 minutes for your initial set up and then it’s super quick the next time! He needs batteries to run, 3 for the robot and 2 for the controller, so make sure you always have them handy to prevent any breakdowns.
Once ready, even young kids can play solo, as there is no reading necessary. Parents can certainly help initially, but most kids will be able to figure out how to work Botley through trial and error explorations.
The controller encourages kids to use logical thinking and problem-solving skills by controlling the robot’s movements. As they get the hang of that, they can increase the difficulty using the included tiles and obstacles.
In addition to your standard movements, children will be able to program music and lights, making the play noisy and flashy, a kid favorite! For the kids who love to use their imagination, Kids can program Botley to act like a ghost, a frog, or another character, promoting both creative and scientific thinking at the same time.
Overall Botley 2.0 is a favorite, especially for kids who like to use their imaginations. If your child is advanced and more into the logical piece of coding than the creative side, they may get bored more quickly and need more advanced options.
- Screen-free play options
- Geared for ages 5+
- Active STEM play
- Up to 150 step capability
- Night vision option
- Engages creative and imaginative thinking
- Needs 5 AAA batteries (not included)
- Not challenging enough for advanced kids
The Thames & Kosmos Kids First Coding and Robotics Kit combines everyone’s favorite lunch (peanut butter and jelly) with STEM principles to give kids their first real taste of coding and programming.
Sammy the sandwich comes with an extensive manual guide that helps children learn how to apply basic coding principles to their play. Kids will enjoy that the scenarios are story-based, and there are six different storylines, to keep things interesting.
The guide provides in-depth details and lessons for kids; each developed to align with technology education standards. For an extra learning boost, there is even a math-mode to help kids get comfortable with their math facts.
Children lay out cards in a specific sequence, and Sammy drives over them, reading them as he goes so he knows what to do next. Unlike some of your more basic robots, this kit also includes rules applications, so Sammy can complete a mission and will perform operations based on what he encounters along the way.
The lessons are perfect for elementary-aged kiddos (it says 4-8 but it’s really more like 6+), but unfortunately, the materials aren’t as child-friendly. The program cards are flimsy but must remain in excellent condition for Sammy to read them.
The kit also involves a fairly lengthy set-up process each time you play, so kids can’t really get it out independently, but require parental involvement. Your child will absolutely learn coding from this robot, which is the ultimate goal, but be aware that you’ll need to be hands-on during the process.
- Screen-free play
- Experiment manual guide with lessons and exercises
- Story-based with six storylines
- Coding lessons aligned with teaching standards
- Ages 4-8
- Math mode option
- Programming through code cards
- Requires precision
- Cards bend easily
- Significant set-up time
- Needs hard floor area
For the budding Jedi to be, consider snagging the Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit. The kit brings the Star Wars universe to life while developing basic coding and programming skills in kids aged six and up.
Right out of the box, this is a hands-on experience. Kids can follow the directions (they’ll need to read to do so) to set up the sensor. Once the sensor is built, you connect to the app on your tablet and get ready to play.
Using CS Scratch, kids will put together code that allows them to control play with hand movements over the sensors, just like the Jedis do in the movie. In addition to programming for the sensor, children will also have the opportunity to use their coding skills to create storylines and add to their own Star Wars universe.
If your child is exceptionally proud of their creations, they can share them with the Kanos Kids Coding community, a safe place for kids to post their work and learn from one another.
There are a few drawbacks to this system. The app has some bugs, and while they are getting better, it can be frustrating to meet with roadblocks that aren’t coding related. Since you will need a tablet to program, it’s also mainly an individual toy instead of something kids can do together.
However, it’s a fair price for a wide range of coding activities that will appear to Star Wars fans of all ages.
- Perfect for Star Wars fans
- Build the sensor from the ground up
- Create music, stories, and new ways to play
- Kids Coding community to share
- Encourages practice and training
- Some reading required
- Only works with an app and device
- App not compatible with all systems
- Bugs in the app
The Wonder Workshop Dash robot is full of whimsical fun from the moment you take it out of the box. The thoughtful designers send it charged and ready to go, so kids can play with it as soon as it’s opened.
Pre-readers can learn the basics of coding using a picture-based coding language on the accompanying app. Drag and drop the easy to understand pictorial coding blocks to send commands to Dash.
As kids get older and increase their reading fluency, they can learn more traditional programming skills. You can create routines of 50+ steps and include logic and decision making to engage those higher-level thinking skills. Some of the coding options are very similar to what is taught by code.org, so elementary kids may be able to build on and apply what they have learned in school to their play.
Dash is engaging with the ability to move, create music, and flash lights, but he’s not self-explanatory. There is an online community that will help you and your child learn the basics, but parents will need to be involved for younger children. Older kids may be able to figure it out from watching the available YouTube video tutorials.
While you do need an app and device to run the robot, there aren’t any log-ins or user info required, which is a mega plus. The app itself is well-designed, and without the usual bugs and issues, you often encounter with kids’ companion programs.
Kids of all ages (and adults) are likely to enjoy programming with the Wonder Workshop Dash robot.
- Arrives charged and ready to go out of the box
- Accepts voice and programming commands
- Open-ended learning platform
- Comes with a collaborative community
- Works for both individual and group play
- Multiple levels of coding exposure
- Video Tutorials available on YouTube
- Needs a device
If your child begins to show an interest in coding and robots (or you would like them to!) and they’re older or more advanced, then these are some great options for you!
If you have an older child who has always been into LEGOs, take it to the next level with the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robot. This kit comes complete with everything you need to build 17 different robot designs, each with their own abilities and features.
Builders of any age will enjoy putting the different robots together and once built, you download an app onto your computer or mobile device to get started with the programming. The coding interface is very intuitive, utilizing the popular drag and drop style. While the language is a little out of date, the necessary skills and programming rules are all there for your child to learn.
This robot has many capabilities. You can program it to walk, talk, complete tasks, and even play games. If your child feels like they have reached the limits of what they can do with the robot, there are more designs and workbooks available online for you to continue to mix it up and explore further.
The MINDSTORMS EV3 is a well constructed and highly durable product that leaves open so many doors for creativity, however, it is also costly. The highest-priced robot on the list, it earns its keep thanks to the multitude of features and options that offer an in-depth educational experience.
Beware, in addition to the sticker price, you should also invest in a rechargeable battery. The robot takes a lot of power, and if you don’t have a rechargeable power source, then you’ll find yourself buying batteries at every turn!
- Robot can walk, talk, and play games
- 17 different designs to choose from
- Compatible with LEGO sets
- Intuitive interface for programming
- Other designs and workbooks for further exploration
- Expensive price
- Must have device to program
- Drains battery quickly
The Firebot robot from the UBTECH JIMU’s mythical series brings elements of fantasy worlds into the coding experience to appeal to kids’ imaginations in new and innovative ways.
Kids ages 8+ are likely to want to get their hands on the Firebot immediately and begin constructing. Like any snap-together creation, there are lots of small pieces and minute details to follow on the instructions. A paper manual is provided, and you can go online for videos and simulations to help aid the building stage.
After the robot is put together, your child will want to download the JIMU app onto their device. There are tutorials available to help beginners learn the Blockly code and start programming commands for their Firebot.
The dragon comes complete with a touch sensor on the chest and two different types of moveable wings to give new life to and actions to your creation. You can even program the snout to glow with red fire or blue ice.
Like other UBTECH products, this robot is not LEGO compatible, so you can’t build up anything around it. That being said, it’s super attractive, and if your kids have a lot of LEGO creations on display, this one will fit right in. This appeals to my mom knowledge that even the coolest toys eventually become obsolete to children. Even though this one is likely to remain a favorite for a while, it will look awesome on a shelf for many years after that.
- Appeals to kids’ imagination
- Attractive display design
- Charged via USB
- App tutorials for programming help
- Blockly code
- Durable once built
- More expensive than other UBTECH designs
- Not LEGO compatible
The Evo robot is an award-winning option designed to introduce older kids (ages 9+) to engineering and coding concepts that are on-level with their development.
Prepared for anything, Evo arrives assembled and ready to play. For all the screen-free families out there, rejoice, because this robot offers coding options both through a color code marker that is device free, and an online platform.
Programmers use the coding markers to create lines that Evo will follow. The different colors indicate separate commands and functions for it to perform. Online, kids will use standard drag and drop interfacing to program a series of steps for Evo. You can send Evo the code via Bluetooth or USB connections.
You will have to charge Evo regularly, but you don’t have to buy batteries. Just plug the USB charger into a cube or your computer to get going again.
While you can program this robot without using a screen, there are perks to the online features. Evo can get regular updates and upgrades from the online app, and there is even a skill tracker for kids to see their progress as they grow. If your child gets bored and wants some new ideas, they can visit the online activity library for inspiration.
This robot has a lot of features for a reasonable price, but watch out; you may encounter some glitches (like you do with all technology!) along the way. It’s also important to note that Evo isn’t designed as an all-terrain robot and has sensitive treads that could be damaged if you are not playing on a clear surface.
- Geared for older kids
- Two ways to code: Screen-free or online
- Updatable for upgrades
- Online skill tracker and activity library
- Pocket-sized for easy storage portability
- Bluetooth capability
- Can be glitchy
- Sensitive treads
The UBTECH JIMU Robot Builderbots Series combines coding and construction for a toy that is educational and lots of fun. The moment you open the box, expect your kiddo to be excited and ready to build!
While this kit isn’t LEGO compatible, the snappable pieces are like LEGO blocks and are easy for kids (and adults) to put together. Be warned; they are hard to disassemble, so make sure you’re following the directions very closely! Luckily, in addition to the paper manual, you can also use an online manual that gives 360° instructions and simulations to guide you.
Once you’ve built your Builderbots, you’ll want to turn to the free app to start coding. The software makes use of Blockly coding to create your commands. Even beginning programmers will be able to use the simple interface and program the robot to navigate obstacles and carry objects.
The Builderbots Series has a unique function called PRP (pose, record, play.) This allows kids to get creative and think outside the typical commands and create something entirely new by positioning the robot, recording the action, and then repeating it back.
If you have a budding programmer, they are likely to enjoy testing their skills with the coding challenges available through the app, helping kids continue to learn and explore even after they’ve had the robot for a while.
The battery for this one is rechargeable, so make sure you or your child is diligent when it comes to plugging it in after play. If the battery is completely drained, expect to wait a decent amount of time (about an hour) to get it charged back up and ready to go.
- Buildable and codable
- Uses Blockly coding to program
- Can navigate obstacles and carry objects
- Create custom actions with a PRP function
- App is free
- High-functioning software
- Reasonably priced
- Requires a device
- Not LEGO compatible
- Hard to disassemble
The overall best coding robot for kids is the Contempo Views Edison Robot. It’s reasonably priced and appeals to a wide variety of age ranges.
If you’re not on a budget, then I suggest the Sphero RVR as the best coding robot for you. It has a similarly broad appeal with a higher price tag that comes with some increased functionality.
Kids of all ages are fascinated with robots. The technology, novelty, and creativity of the concept combine together to make robots simply irresistible.
Ask your child what they would make a robot do, and the answer will likely be well thought out and unique to their personality and interests. Kids are full of ideas, and with the right robot, they’ll be able to make those dreams a reality.