My 10 year old son got his very first programmable robot on the weekend. He saved up for (with a bit of help from Mum & Dad) a Lego EV3 Mindstorms. This is an expensive toy but yeeha! it is so much FUN and my son is learning some basic programming and robotic knowledge/skills. Plus, he loves to build with Lego and the EV3 kit comes with 601 pieces!
I was surprised at the lack of documentation that came in the box. Only the Track3r instructions are included and the rest of the instructions are in the software that you have to download onto a computer. This ended up being a good thing for my 10 year old because it gave him a chance to download, run and figure out how to read/use the software. The software includes some programs for each EV3 model (there are 5 that you can build) so that you can start commanding the EV3 to do things. I can’t find any type of documentation related to each program to tell us what it’s supposed to do (annoying!). It’s great for my son to learn how to figure it out by himself but I think it would have been nice if there was a few step-by-step how-to program guides included.
The first model that my son created was the Track3r and we soon realised that it does not include all of the 3 sensors.
So then he got stuck into building the EV3rStorm which we knew included all of the sensors (infrared sensor, colour sensor & touch sensor). Once it was built the remote control no longer worked, what? Also, he realised that some parts were missing for the top of the robot head, so I had to make a missing-parts request from the Lego website. The remote control not working really worried us for a while; it turned on but the robot wouldn’t move! Eventually Dad saved the day when he checked whether the sensor wires were connected properly; they were not! Lego did not make the best diagrams! After re-wiring it we got the remote to work again, yippee.
Now my son is trying to learn how to program the EV3. He is using trial & error and also searching for hints on the Internet & Lego sites. Happy days! 🙂
Using the EV3 Mindstorms in schools would be an excellent way to encourage students to learn about robots and computer programming.