Claire Darbaud


I am looking into lego minstorm as a possible fun thing to explore with the
kids. Because our budget is tight and the beginer set is quite pricey, I'd
love to read ideas from people who have played with it before I spend that
much money.
My kids are 6 and 8, they love all kinds of video games. I see there is a
kit for 8+ and one for 12+ How hard is it to actually operate?
Any thoughts...

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Claire Darbaud <cdarbaud@...> wrote:
>I see there is a
> kit for 8+ and one for 12+ How hard is it to actually operate?

It's good to consider kits like mindstorms the way you would the purchase of a trampoline or snap circuits, or a microscope. The kids may be alllllll excited for a day or two and then the expensive new thing doesn't get much notice. Maybe later the excitement will resume and maybe not. For that reason, if you decide to spend the money, get the latest model, since it may be several years before it gets much use and after a point some things stop being "backward compatible".

That's not to say "don't get one"! It's just a big factor to consider.

We got a Mindstorm kit for Mo and she didn't find it difficult, but she did find it disappointing. It doesn't really live up to her ideas about robots and electronics - she's more intrigued by kits which are more mechanical like K'nex. Some of those are very challenging to assemble and make run, but the principles of how things work are a lot clearer - the only real "magic" is a simple motor and a little experimentation answers the question "what's a motor?" pretty readily.

The Mindstorm kits are designed around a computer, so much more of the function is opaque. You can't easily goof around with the computer block and find out what it does. If you have a kid who has already built simple robots the disappointment in the robotics part might not be an issue. And if you have a kid who likes to write actual code, the computer parts may be more appealing - not because they involve writing code (its all drag and drop programming), but because the principles of how the computer bits work will be more evident.

> My kids are 6 and 8, they love all kinds of video games.

If they like video games with robots, they may be crushed by the clunky robots and simplistic tasks they can perform. Resonding to a flashing light is dull. Following a line loses its charm fast. You might rather get them the far less expensive K'nex robot kits - they have vehicles and insect-like things, which are cute. Plus, if they already have legos, the pieces are lego-compatible so they can be worked into the collection and re-used in novel ways. The Mindstorm parts made Mo anxious - they're legos, but rather specialized and you can't exactly go out and buy a bucket of spare parts - and that has also cut down on her interest in exploring with the stuff.

You might also see if your kids enjoy a game like Fantastic Contraptions or World of Goo - where one "builds" various things on the screen to do a variety of fun things.

There's also a new brand of something which looks like legos which seems to have some robots - anyone tried it? I can't think of the name but wonder if the parts are truly lego compatible? That's important in Mo's lego-centric building collection ;)

In retrospect, I wish I'd gotten other robots first, but at the time Mindstorms were all I could find.