Is your kid fascinated by robotics? If yes, then you can gift him or her a Lego Mindstorms kit. You’ve played with Lego blocks in your childhood, I’m sure and so does your child. If he’s more than 10 years old, he’s ready to learn something while he also plays.
Kids having a nag for technology will love playing with any of the Mindstorms kits. Be it a Lego NXT or a Lego EV3, you’ll see them learn a lot while they think they’re just playing. Not only that, if this really interests them, they might grow up to be a genius!
So, what do these Mindstorms really have on plate for you? Let’s check it out.
What is Lego Mindstorms?
Even though Lego is still more popularly known for its building blocks, their robotics program began way back in 1998 with the name of Mindstorms. It comprises of both hardware and software that enables kids to build their own robot and operate it.
In fact, you could even make the robot use your Lego blocks and make a building for you. Not only is that a lot of fun, but also helps kids learn a lot. It will be one point where they develop skills in architecture and robotics at the same time!
What are the Various Products of Lego Mindstorms?
The first release by Lego Mindstorms in 1998 was the Robotic Invention System the 1.0. The set had an RCX microcomputer, a CD that had 12 guided challenges, 2 motors, 2 touch sensors and one light sensor. Over the years, they have developed their products going along with the development in technology. The following sets have been the most popular:
This kit was released by Lego in 2006, replacing the robotics invention system. The main component of this kit is the NXT intelligent brick, a brick-shaped computer that can take 4 sensors and control up to 3 motors.
Main Microcontroller: 32-bit ARM7TDMI-core Atmel AT91SAM7S256
Additional Microcontroller: 8-bit Atmel AVR ATmega48
Flash Memory: 256 KB
RAM: 64 KB
Development Kits: Software, Hardware and Bluetooth developer kits
This was launched in 2009, replacing the older version of Lego NXT. The newer features of the NXT brick include a sound editor, an image editor and an LCD screen. It also as more input/output ports, 3 interactive servo motors, 1 ultrasonic sensor, 2 touch sensors and a colour sensor. To top it all, you get 619 pieces (which includes the brick) and instructions to build 4 types of robots.
Main Microcontroller: 32-bit Atmel AT91SAM7S256
Additional Microcontroller: 8-bit Atmel ATmega48
Flash Memory: 256 KB
RAM: 64 KB
LCD Screen: 100 x 64 pixels
This is “Evolution 3”, designed for the 3rd generation, succeeding the NXT 2.0. It was released in 2013 and currently, Lego announces that this may retire very soon. As of now, it happens to be the most advanced kits of all. That’s because the robot that you can create can walk, talk and even think. You can create 5 unique types of robots from the EV3 building instructions, which comprises of 601 pieces.
Flash Memory: 16 MB
RAM: 64 MB
Micro SD Slot: up to 32 GB
Upcoming – Lego Mindstorms EV4
Coming up next in the fall of 2020, is the new Lego Mindstorms EV4, which has been developed over a span of 7 years. This is the one that is soon replacing the EV3 Mindstorms. It comes with 949 pieces to allow you to build 5 different types of robots. The colour sensor can distinguish between 8 different colours while the distance sensor can detect obstacles.
How Can Your Child Benefit from Lego Mindstorms?
You’ve seen by now what these Mindstorms can actually do. They’re all based on programming languages that your kids will learn in order to build their robot. Imagine, at the age of 10, your kid actually knows programming – how much more will he know by the time he’s in college?
Here are 5 reasons why you should bring him one of these:
Learning While Playing – Can Enjoy Being Productive
When you give a kid a book and say this is something for you to learn, there are high chances he’ll find it boring. On the other hand, you hand him a game and he’s likely to play all day. What he may not realize is that he’s learning a lot while he’s “playing” because he’s building a robot.
Introduces to Programming and Enhances Technical Skills
Your kid will start with the instruction guide and create the robots that are already there in it. Slowly, he starts getting the hang of how programming really works. By giving this product, you’re actually introducing robotics for kids in a very friendly manner.
Boosts Creativity and Imagination
So once your kid has understood how this works, he starts making other designs of his own. If you take a look at various Lego Mindstorms EV3 projects, you’ll understand what I mean. Your kid can modify the robot given in the Lego 31313 set or even create something on his own.
Teaches Team Work and Coordination
This is something kids learn when they’re building anything. They don’t have to necessarily work in a group to learn team work. When you’re using a lot of pieces and working with sensors and programming, you tend to understand how all parts of a robot coordinate with one another to function smoothly.
Brings Out their Potential
That happens when you see your kid use the Mindstorms kit from time to time. What you’ll really notice is whether they have a nag for technology or not. If you see him creating his own robot designs, it’s a sign that he’s very good with programming.
Lego Mindstorms Education Programs
Lego Education started even before Mindstorms. They have been working with teachers and education institutions to develop playful-learning programs for developing intellectual and creative abilities in children.
The Lego Education EV3 training program introduces children to engineering, computer programming, hardware and software. It has been incorporated by many institutions and teachers have given a wonderful response.
Which Robot Kit Are You Planning to Gift Your Kids?
Kids are getting tech-savvy day by day today. However, instead of watching them play those violent video games, you can give them something that is more productive too. Any child who loves gadgets also loves robots. You cannot give him a greater gift than the ability to create his own.
Lego Mindstorms has given you the opportunity to observe how much passion your kid has for robotics, a field that has been growing immensely right now. At the same time, you can test his programming abilities, creativity, patience and the zest to learn more. So, are you buying him the latest model or willing to start with something more basic?