Today at Launch Education and Kids, I saw a presentation about a new modular robot product called Linkbots. They stretch the definition of robot, as each module looks more like a truncated soda can with flanges and a flat spot. Each module is programmable and connectable and has a built-in rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. The product is not being developed for the direct consumer, rather for educational settings, so its non-traditional appearance should not have an effect on its appeal. It uses C++ for programming (with Java script version coming soon) and is highly adaptable.
Linkbots passes the skills test because programming is integrated and trial and error is a big part of the construction process. Middle level learners will love this because of the ability to customize form and function. It's already being delivered to some school settings, and with an imminent second round of funding (their presentation to panel of potential investors was really well received), they should be able to get the price point down to something more accessible to schools.
Barobo gets kids and technology together in an intellectual, experimental, and tactile way. Linkbots is a hearty product that will survive hands-on time with kids and deliver meaningful skill development.