Lego WeDo 2.0
We bought Lego WeDo in early March of this year. We had gotten the curriculum pack for a penny and the thought of a robotics system has intrigued me for a while now. We just had a hunch that it would be a hit with C-bear. We had looked at Dash and Dot for him for Christmas (also pricey) and Ozobot (less pricey, but more limited) and both of those options, along with several others were more like "robot toys" with programming capability. What we liked about Lego WeDo is that you are building the robot yourself and then programming it with a similar "blockly-type" "language." Meccano is another system you can build and then program, but it is also more expensive and if you have a lego-lover already WeDo just makes sense!
I had read a few reviews (the few I could find) on the system and I had that to go by and the Lego advertising with private schools. It wasn't much to go on, I will admit. The one review I read was from a dad who was techy...probably more so than I am, even with my engineering background. His conclusion was that this system was limited and that he was sorry they didn't just wait a few years to buy Mindstorms.
I respectfully disagree. I, you see, am a horrible programmer. I struggle with it and I didn't do well in college with it. I just don't think that way. But, I think if I had started out younger (this didn't exist to the masses when I was younger, of course) and with a more blocky/visual programming language, I would have been fairly good at it when I got to college. That is our hope for C-bear, if that is an area of interest for him. If Mindstorms is 2-3 years away ability-wise for C-bear, this is not a huge investment for him to start checking it out and playing with it.
Here is my take. For $160, if you can afford it, or ask for it as a gift for your lego-loving child, this is worth it.
First, it is worth it because it DOES have an actual curriculum with science experiments. A few are kind of far-fetched as far as teaching something directly (building a frog and learning about the frog life-cycle...hmmm). But, there are quite a few projects and a lot to learn. Plus, you can make your own projects.
Second, this would give your child the opportunity to play with this type of thing and you can see if they are interested in it. Mindstorms is $350-400 and I think for $160 (plus tax and shipping, I suppose, but still close to half) you can get an idea on interest. If you have more than one child even better! And you don't have to wait until they are old enough for Mindstorms.
Third, I like this better than the toy robots because you have to build the robot. C-bear knows that the hub is the brain and it talks to the iPad and turns the motor on and off/listens for the sensor to give it info in the program. He had to put it together and can play with placements and such.
Fourth, it is only as limited as you make it! We are part of a Lego WeDo community on facebook and it is ABSOLUTELY amazing what people do with this system! Mindstorms is even more incredible, but this system is NOT limited. You can go beyond project scopes or make totally different projects. One person used a cam design to make a lego monkey climb across a wire with it's lego arms. There is an app to use Scratch with WeDo as well, so you are not even limited to Lego's limited coding languae. We haven't even investigated that yet!
In fact, I would go so far as to say it is going beyond the curriculum that is even better! One morning, C-bear came walking out of his room with the motor from his lego train and asked if he could plug it into the hub (if you were hoping so, you cannot) but I was impressed he was thinking along those lines. An extra motor would be expensive and not something we would do right now, but we could certainly use the motor and remote from his lego train to make something move and then use the program and hub/motor with WeDo to do something else. Really the possibilities are endless! Anyway, I wanted to put a good review up on cyberspace.
I have heard that after summer camps end is the time to buy WeDo or EV3 (Mindstorms) as robotics camps use them and then sell them at the end of summer. I am not holding my breath but we will watch for it!