Educational toys have come a long way from the ’90s, where anything that might teach kids something was routinely considered boring as hell. There may have been spreadsheets involved. Now, if you want to teach a small person something that will definitely help their careers, you can just grab them a mini-robotics lab or something.
The ‘or something’ bit nicely describes Lego Education’s new Spike Prime kit, an engineering, robotics and coding-focused construction kit aimed at younger folks than Lego’s Mindstorm or Technic setups are. Lego’s mentioned the Grade 6 to 8 range, but will probably pick up users on either side of it.
Trying to brick it
The main components of the set are Lego bits and bobs (obvs), a programmable hub, motors, and sensors. These can be customised and programmed in Scratch, making for one heck of an educational toy. There are more than 500 Technic pieces in the set, accounting for some of the weird shapes, and Lego has dropped a couple of new pieces into the mix as well. There’s a 3×3 frame, a base-plate for builders to work out their prototyping on, and improved wheels and wire clips.
The programmable hub consists of several ports, an internal speaker, an internal battery, Bluetooth, and a light matrix. Oh, and a six-axis gyroscope, in case you need motion-sensing features. Technically, you could turn this thing into a PlayStation 4 controller if you felt like it.
Programming is done using the Lego Education Spike App. This uses a drag-and-drop interface to teach youngsters coding fundamentals without becoming overwhelming. There are a variety of lessons which includes Spike Prime, making it ideal for the classroom. That seems to be where Lego’s pitching this one, at least. Jacked-up parents might decide to do a little home education instead. And, as is common with Lego, we’re expecting more than a few adult users to be keen on it as well.
Spike Prime is due for a global launch in August 2019. But at what cost? There’s no local pricing available yet but the set is available for pre-order in the States. There, it’ll set buyers back some $330, or about R4,700. That’s far from the most expensive Lego set we’ve seen this week (or the far more affordable first black-and-white outing). Plus, you know, coding and robotics skills are worth knowing.