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Best Way to Introduce LEGO Robotics to 8-Year-Old?

f2iso100f2iso100 United StatesMember Posts: 54
My 8-year-old would normally have been able to join her school's Robotics team in the spring, but since we're virtual, they're not doing it this year. My daughter was REALLY looking forward to it, though, so I'm looking for a cost-effective way to still give her a good introduction to LEGO Robotics without getting too complicated for an absolute beginner. 

About me: I have an extensive LEGO collection, but it's more of the modular sorts of things. Budget is probably around $150. I am not averse to buying stuff piecemeal from Bricklink, as I'd likely have all most of the brick components from any given set. 

Thanks in advance for any advice! 

Comments

  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    I’m not sure what the situation is re: prices for the specific robot parts 2nd hand but Boost was designed specifically for this kind of purpose, and probably feasible to get reduced around Black Friday for $150 if still being sold near you as the start kit/Star Wars kit. It’s initially quite tied to unlocking functions in the app, but after that you can use whatever functions you like.

    Mindstorms would probably be what you want to ‘future proof’ a bit better for your daughter though. 
    Fizyx
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,807
    +1 for Mindstorms but it'll be more than $150 unfortunately.

    There's more emphasis on building fancy robots than programming them in Boost: it takes so long to build them she'll be bored by the time it comes to program them.

    The basic Mindstorms Robot Designer bots can be built in a matter of minutes, almost.


    FizyxThe_Rancor
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,586
    If you cannot extend to the cost of Mindstorms, what was it that she was interested in? Was it building robots (from LEGO), programming/coding, controlling robots (getting them to move or avoid obstacles, etc). There are some good non-LEGO kits to build, code and play with robots but obviously they are not LEGO. For example, you can get line following and object avoiding robot car kits for about $50.
  • f2iso100f2iso100 United StatesMember Posts: 54
    These are all great points! I'm hesitant to invest too much, because if our school district returns to in-person school next year, she'll have access to Mindstorms via the school. She's much more interested in  coding and controlling the robots vs. actually constructing them. We have a bit of experience with the VEX system, but I'm really hesitant to introduce and sort a different brand. 

    I suppose there's no middle ground besides BOOST (although I have to say that the Droids look like SO much fun, regardless of any practical use!). 
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 521
    I was going to recommend Fischertechnik...but their controller alone (battery and charger not included!) is over $400! However, while they have kits for kids, their control center is more like a real industrial PLC controller (single wire plugs) with smart features (wifi, bluetooth, usb, exc.) than a toy, so it blows any Lego kits right away (though Lego has much more intricate building parts). 

    If you ever want to bite the bullet and buy Mindstorms, here's an honest review of the new kit from a robotics teacher and his kid (tiny channel, mind the poor video production).
    Basically:
    software: excellent
    hardware: decent but could use improvement (it's the Spike Prime controller with different firmware)




  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,639
    Another +1 for Mindstorms. Don't forget to look at eBay and thrift shops for used sets, as you can save a LOT by buying second hand, especially if you opt for the NXT 2.0 sets.
  • bricktuarybricktuary Krakozhia (temporarily stuck in London)Member Posts: 623
    I would go Boost. I don't disagree that it's a tad dull in the build phase, but it's colourful, it's aimed at this sort of age range, and assuming you have a smart device the coding is fun and (at least with my kids) similar to the Scratch etc that they do in class these days. And the price is spot on what you were after. 
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 281
    Nice thing about all these new sets (Boost, Powered Up, Control+, Spike, Mindstorms) is that the parts are all mostly compatible. So if you decide to buy "app-controlled batmobile" (if you can find it) and just program it using the Powered-Up app, your motors will work for Mindstorms (they're not as capable, but still useful) and your battery box will accept other motors (like the Boost motor). only Spike and Mindstorms have stored programs, the others need a phone/tablet to control them, but the programming model is similar and the concepts transfer. So if you start with a cheaper set you don't lose your investment if your kid turns out to be a die-hard robot/machine builder. Not to mention that the Powered-Up protocol is completely reverse-engineered, so you can control it using your language of choice (I use node.js for my mocs).
  • f2iso100f2iso100 United StatesMember Posts: 54
    Aha, I wasn't sure how cross-compatible they were, so that's fantastic to know! I'm going to look around for a good second-hand Mindstorm set, as that does seem to give the most room to grow, but considering that she has a younger sibling, Boost doesn't seem like all that bad an investment for now. 

    Thanks so much to everyone for your help! 
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 281
    f2iso100 said:
    Aha, I wasn't sure how cross-compatible they were, so that's fantastic to know! I'm going to look around for a good second-hand Mindstorm set, as that does seem to give the most room to grow, but considering that she has a younger sibling, Boost doesn't seem like all that bad an investment for now. 

    Thanks so much to everyone for your help! 
    Warning: the old Mindstorms is only compatible with itself! Only the latest mindstorms is compatible with the latest PoweredUp family of products. (WeDo 2.0, Boost, PoweredUp, Control+, latest Mindstorms are all the same family).
    The_Rancorstlux
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 521
    f2iso100 said:
    Aha, I wasn't sure how cross-compatible they were, so that's fantastic to know! I'm going to look around for a good second-hand Mindstorm set, as that does seem to give the most room to grow, but considering that she has a younger sibling, Boost doesn't seem like all that bad an investment for now. 

    Thanks so much to everyone for your help! 
    Warning: the old Mindstorms is only compatible with itself! Only the latest mindstorms is compatible with the latest PoweredUp family of products. (WeDo 2.0, Boost, PoweredUp, Control+, latest Mindstorms are all the same family).
    Original Mindstorms (RCX) is compatible with any of the old "electric brick" type power systems. NXT and EV3 are interchangeable, and given their collective 14 year lifespan, have a ton of 3rd party support as well as a huge MOC community. All three have books published with the crazy stuff people built with them, as well as a ton of content online.

    Given that the current system is new, it'll be a bit before the community for it starts growing. The MOC community is already fed up with the hardware limitations though so firmware and hardware hacks will probably be the first advanced stuff showing up. So if you see a big fancy robot "using the new system", don't be surprised if it uses 3rd party extension cables, sensors, and custom control bricks. So yes, the new mindstorms will be lots of fun, right up until your kid wants to go big and hits a...brick wall. Then you'll either be left with a dud or get asked for a soldering station and 3D printer for Christmas to make custom controllers.

    I hope they release a 2.0 version soon to address the issues, adding things like more ports (#wewant8ports), and wireless mesh networking with both interlink between bricks and central control. That would make it the most powerful Mindstorms ever (Bluetooth can support up to a 7 device interlink in a scatternet, but if they use WiFi then it's unlimited potential). But only time will tell which route we go down.
  • BrainsluggedBrainslugged England (the grim North)Member Posts: 1,592
    The new Mindstorms set is about 30% off the UK price right now from Amazon.de. About £234.
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