We are very excited about the Lego Boost kit coming out on 1st August, 2017. It comprises models and modules promoting robotics for children. One can build, code and play with it. Almost every kid dreams of bringing their Lego creations and models to life. The Lego Boost does exactly that!
The kit, designed for kids aged 7-12, has LEGO pieces, a LEGO Move Hub, an interactive motor, and a colour & distance sensor that can be used to build a robot called Vernie that greets you when you shake his hand, a Lego rover, a guitar, Frankie the cat, and AutoBuilder that stacks together bricks to produce miniature LEGO models for you.
Its beauty is in its simplicity. One can build a model and put together code blocks to make the model move, dance, and talk. You can build a Lego cat, and code a ‘purr’ audio to play when the the motion sensor is triggered. So, every time you pet the cat, you trigger the sensors and your cat purrs. There are unlimited possibilities for kids to work with.
One has to download the Lego Boost App to interact with the Lego models they create. It has building instructions for five models, and has an icon-based drag-and-drop coding interface, like that of MIT Media Lab’s Scratch. The Boost’s colour scheme of white, orange and blue is also the same as that of Scratch. The app is used to code Lego robots and models to bring them to life. It is fairly easy to use and is quite intuitive.
Lego has other programming-based kits like Mindstorms (10+ years) and WeDo (7+ years), but Lego Boost kit’s models are interactive and more for play than education. It can also be used with one’s earlier Lego kits and bricks to create wonderful projects. Robotics for children is getting more fun and exciting with tools like this.
5 Models and 60+ activities in1 Lego Boost kit
One can choose any of the five given models from the list, follow the step-by step-instruction to build the model, and then use the Lego Boost App to code and bring the model to life. Children can undertake 60+ activities that hone their coding aptitude and teach them various modules of programming while having fun.
The five models that can be built with Lego Boost Creative Toolbox are:
Vernie, the robot: This charming robot stand over 10 inches tall, and has a few pre-programmed features like greeting you when you shake his hand, which basically triggers the tilt sensor that leads to the action. It’s as cute as Anki’s Cozmo robot. There are many other things you can make this little guy do like calling you the fairest of all or telling your sister that she is a freak (do that at your own risk :). You can even aim it towards a target and shoot the shooter mounted on its shoulder by rotating its head. There are various other activities one can perform with it.
Multi-Tooled Rover 4, a vehicle: This comes with various tools and attachments, and can be programmed to perform many activities. Run it around the house, or make it sneak in on your mom. It is 4*9*5 inches (h*l*w) in size.
Guitar4000: This musical model is 1*16*5 inches (h*l*w) in size. You can learn how to play a song, and jam with your friends.
Frankie the Cat: It’s an adorable little cat (6 inches tall). It meows, purrs, sits, stands, and wags its tail, as prompted by triggers like petting, and feeding it with an orange bottle (triggering the colour sensor). It’s a cute little ball of legos.
The AutoBuilder, a lego creator: This is a very interesting tool, that lets you build your own miniature Legos. It is 10*7*6 (h*l*w) inches in size.
You can do various activities by building and programming these models with the help of the Boost app. You can also explore model-building beyond the recommended robots and models and programme them intuitively to have fun!
Following is a video featuring Simon Kent, Lego Boost’s lead designer introducing the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox.
One can download the Lego boost App on iOS and Android devices to get instructions to create the above five models, and to programme and interact with them. It gives tutorials to students to pair the Lego creations with the the APP via bluetooth, and shows how to use the App and its the hardware. The coding interface is easy to use, with code blocks (icon-based) that can be dragged and dropped to programmed a model.
The Boost App is compatible with the following device specifications:
Android: The device must have Android 5.0 or higher, Bluetooth low power technology (4.1 or higher), 1 GB ram, Duel core processor 1.4 ghz, 8 inches or larger display, microphone and speaker.
iOS: The device must have iOS 10.3 or newer
The App and the programmable motors and bricks can used with your existing Lego kits, too, to programme animals, vehicles and buildings or castles, using the walking, driving and entrance bases (canvases or types of programming modules) in the APP.
Lego Boost Creative Toolbox’s content
The toolbox has:
Over 840 LEGO pieces
A Move Hub that has bluetooth low energy technology, encoded motors, tilt sensor and a light; it is powered by six AAA batteries (not included in the box)
An interactive coded motor that can be controlled to turn as much as one wants at a controlled speed
Colour and distance sensors that detect distance, motion, and colour
Another educational programming app like Lego Boost is Apple’s Swift Playgrounds, that has support from Lego. It is a free iPad app to programme robots and drones. With apps like Lego Boost and Swift Playground, robotics for children has become accessible to children, and it’s absolutely fun for kids and adults alike.
We will post about more such tools that teach programming robots to children. Till then, stay tuned!