Learning to build and program with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 has been of such TREMENDOUS benefit to my son (now 11).
His LEGO obsession goes back many years, and it has been such fun chronicling it and providing LEGO learning materials here at Homegrown Learners.
I get so many questions about what Mindstorms are and HOW to get started with them. This is the first in a series of posts about robots my son is building, resources he is using, and simple tips for successful building.
First, if you'd like an OVERVIEW of Mindstorms, read LEGO Mindstorms EV3 in Your Homeschool, then come back here.
*This post does not contain any information about First LEGO League. We are simply learning about EV3 and having fun right now.
Keep in mind all of our building is done with the EV3 set through LEGO® Education -- NOT the retail set. The retail set targets home users and the education set targets educational users. (read more here) We chose the LEGO® Education set for its obvious learning value and educational software.
LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 Building Instructions
The building instructions for the robots in the EV3 sets come within the software.
We have also found instructions online at Robot Square.
If your LEGO lover hasn't done a lot of building with Technic blocks, I would recommend letting them build some of the robots first and not even worry about the programming. My son has built some of the robots multiple times, just because he enjoys building.
I let my son borrow my iPad to view the instructions. A robot normally takes him a couple hours, which I consider time WELL SPENT!
*A note about set storage: We use the container the sets come in, as well as a tackle box to organize the smaller parts. (We have this tackle box and LOVE IT!) We own both the Core and Expansion sets, so there are a lot of pieces.
*A note about the price: Yes, these sets are pricey. Yes, they are investment. Yes, they are WORTH it if you have a child who loves robotics and learns from them. I consider this our STEM curriculum for the next several years.
Programming with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3
My best advice is to just jump in and START. Let your child (and you) play around with the software.
The software has many good tutorials - just explore these! You will be glad you invested the time. Here's a shot of what it looks like:
The Gyro Boy
The Gyro Boy is made with the LEGO® Education EV3 Core Set. My son built and programmed this guy.
This model includes 4 sensors, but Grant just programmed using the touch and color sensors. (He watched this tutorial which helped explain how to program the sensors.)
Here's what he came up with... no help from an adult.
I'm impressed with how achievable these projects are!
Other Helpful Resources
We've recently discovered a series of books from No Starch Press - all dealing with LEGOS and creativity.
Many of these just spark building ideas. I like this because ultimately I would love for my son to begin creating his OWN robots and models to program!
Stay tuned for more videos and LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 tips ... I'm just a homeschool mom trying to keep up with the interests of her children. What a fun job THAT is!!