Building Robots With Lego Mindstorms: The Ultim...
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The WeDo 2.0 set contains 280 LEGO pieces which is a huge change, since the previous version only included 150 elements. Therefore, we get almost twice as many bricks for a similar price. In case of WeDo 1.0 you could extend your building capabilities with the separately sold WeDo Resource set containing 325 more LEGO pieces.
However, there are fewer types of slopes and curved slopes to choose from. The set, most importantly, lacks sloped pieces with a width of two studs, which were abundant in the WeDo 1.0 version. Those were very useful for building stable sloped constructions and will be very much missed. There are a couple of types of LEGO pieces worth noting in this compartment. The azure 41 double curved slope is very rare and can be used to tame all those cables connecting electronic components to the hub. The 12 31 slope is also a new addition to the set, further expanding the possibilities of building sleek, more aerodynamic designs. Interestingly, it is the only sloped piece with a width of two studs, which to us seems a bit strange.
Our talented RoboCamp robot designers had plenty of fun creating robots with this set. RoboCamp offers you over 40 exciting robot designs, all ready to use by teachers (and students) as lesson plans with instructions guiding you through every step of robot building and programming. Below, you can watch a sample robotics lesson for LEGO WeDo 2.0.
In the Toolbar at the top of the interface, you will find several important buttons. Home button can be used to get to the lobby. Project Library opens a panel with projects found in the LEGO WeDo 2.0 curriculum. Right next to it, in Design Library, you can find some inspiration for individual building and programming. In the Toolbar, you will also find Capture tool icon, allowing you to access the camera and the screen capture tool; in the Documentation, students can report their work.
Let's biefly summarize pros and cons of WeDo 2.0. The selection and number of bricks included in the set is just perfect. Numerous enough to build countless interesting robots, but not too overwhelming, so you can swiftly find needed parts and limit the size of each project - which is absolutely necessary to complete a contruction within a reasonable time frame. Building possibilities of this set are huge. Even the building process is easier and more pleasant compared to the previous version, LEGO WeDo 1.0 kit. And although we still miss several bricks from WeDo 1.0 (like the gray Technic cam...), we rate the contents of WeDo 2.0 overwhelmingly positively.
Another notable advantage is less obvious, but quite important - the box. The wide, flat box with sorting tray significantly shortens building time, which is precious for every teacher (just like their hearing, saved thanks to the noise reduction).
If you want to get your kids started with robotics, the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox is an exceptional kit. This kit spans a range of project levels, starting slow and simple and gradually building up in complexity. The Boost Creative Toolbox has a block-based graphical coding interface that is intuitive and easy to use, and the kit comes with clear and detailed assembly instructions for each of the five main models. Previous electronics knowledge is not necessary to use this kit. All of these features mean that this kit is very approachable, even for complete beginners, allowing your child to grow in confidence as a young roboticist advancing through more levels. This kit does an excellent job of balancing and blending structured play with space for creative expression. There are plenty of opportunities to expand with additional Lego products once you've exhausted the 60+ activities included in this set. Some of the included activities include building a robot sheriff with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and creating an automated factory that makes miniature Lego creations. Troubleshooting is easy with this kit. Overall, we recommend the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox above any other option on the market today for kids getting started with robotics.
If Lego-based robotics aren't your thing, look at the Makeblock mBot as an introductory robotics kit. This kit gives you direct exposure to commonplace components in industrial robots and is still user-friendly in a way that is approachable for a total novice. The step-by-step 3D instructions are easy to follow, with the app providing gamified lessons once you have the mBot built. It also comes pre-programmed with three different operating modes, allowing you to hit the ground running when you finish building it.
Unfortunately, once the building stops, so does the use of this robot. There is not much you can do with it once fully put together. The only way to control its motion is by moving it forward in a straight line. Aside from that, the only other interactive aspect is changing the pose of the eyes and arms. All other activities will have to come from your child's playful imagination. This robot kit lets you foster an interest in robotics and test the water with a low-cost option before investing in a more expensive product. However, we have a feeling its appeal will fade out sooner rather than later.
While overall we found the Nintendo Labo to be quite impressive, it's not without its flaws. The innovative cardboard-based construction is cool, but it lacks the durability of plastic or metal robots. One spilled glass of juice could effectively ruin most of the parts. The tab and slot construction will also wear out over time if you frequently assemble and disassemble your cardboard creations, and the potential for expansion is limited. Nintendo doesn't currently make any hardware expansions, and you have no way of integrating any third-party motors or sensors. Despite that, the Nintendo Labo is a solid option to get kids that are intrigued by video games interested in hands-on projects, engineering design, and programming. And if you already have a Switch system, the price is relatively low.
If you're seeking a robot kit for kids that goes well beyond programming Legos, the Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 is the kit for you. This kit has 550+ pieces and has directions for ten different robots, including a robot tank with a gripper arm, a catapult, a walking ant, and even a camera dolly. It comes with a variety of different sensors and can be programmed with both graphical blocks or text-based coding in Python, and is compatible with both Arduino and Raspberry Pi. This kit is versatile enough that you could work for hundreds of hours on projects without duplicating anything. You also have plenty of potential to expand beyond what's included in the kit with compatible add-on components from Makeblock or third-party parts off the shelf.
Beginners may find this kit to be quite complex and intimidating. There are tons of small parts that require a great deal of skill to assemble. The documentation isn't the clearest, so troubleshooting can be challenging compared to other models. It also requires considerable space and time to assemble projects with this, so it's probably not a kit that you want to take out for only an hour or two on a rainy afternoon. However, it's an absolutely fantastic option for kids who already have a more advanced level of understanding of electromechanical systems or if you are willing to invest hours in assisting and guiding them. True beginners are better off starting with a simpler kit. This kit can familiarize you with some of the same components used in college-level robotics classes as you progress from working with kits to simply building your own robots, and can give you a good starting point for years to come.
Unfortunately, the building method seems to be less friendly for little hands that aren't as dexterous. It comes with just enough servos to build the Buzzbot and the Muttbot at the same time. We also feel the lack of included sensors dampens the programming activities you can do. The JST connectors used to connect the various servos to the main hub seem somewhat delicate, and if they are pulled out carelessly, we could imagine them becoming damaged. All in all, this pair of robots are adorable, and the servos grant them impressive amounts of motion, but we feel there are better-made bots in the same price range with a much more comprehensive learning environment.
David Wise heads up our expert team when it comes to reviewing and testing educational robotics kits. Graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering in 2014 from MIT, David has well over a decade of robotics and hands-on STEM education experience. He worked closely with the MIT Edgerton Center while enrolled as a mentor for their engineering design workshop. There he developed a curriculum through their engineering outreach program and brought it to local schools in the Boston area. More recently, he became one of the co-founders and directors of the Tahoe STEM Camp, teaching hundreds of students topics ranging from remotely operated underwater vehicles to light following spider robots. He is also a coach for the local FIRST Robotics Lego League and the FIRST Tech Challenge team.
The Sphero Mini is one of the easiest overall robots to use because it requires no assembly. It's small and compact, with the initial setup limited to downloading the app and charging it if necessary. In less than 15 minutes, you're ready to write your first program, and the limited number of pieces makes cleanup a breeze. It's one of the few products that doesn't require significant chunks of time all at once, letting you squeeze in quick coding lessons throughout the day.
The Elegoo Smart Robot Car covers the same content topics as the four previously mentioned kits but doesn't offer a guided progression or engineering challenges, so you'll have to come up with these on your own. The UBTech Jimu Buzzbot hits many of those same content areas, but a major flaw we found compared to some of the other robots was its lack of sensors, precluding any discussions about the types of sensors while not enabling kids to create basic programs that could make their robot respond to outside stimuli. However, it does offer guided tutorials and lessons to work through and the opportunity for both graphical and text-based programming. 59ce067264