Lego Mindstorms NXT
Lego has really grown in the past fifty years, away from little square bricks to very complex pieces. The Lego Mindstorms NXT is certainly a quantum leap from where Lego began in the early seventies. The Lego Mindstorms NXT (Set Number 8527) is one that could be enjoyed by both kids and adults.
The Mindstorms kit comes with a miniature computer with a 32-bit microprocessor that hooks up to a PC desktop or laptop via mini-USB. The set also comes with a CD-Rom that helps you to download certain programs into this NXT Intelligent Brick.
The mini-computer has some ports that allow for a lot of mulitfunctionality. For example, there is a sound sensor, an ultrasonic visual sensor, an improved light sensor, and it even has a set of virtual “eyes”. There are also three interactive Servo motors, which can be programmed to move at odd intervals.
All these cool parts, combined with over 500 Technic pices can combine to create motorized models that can do all sorts of things, if programmed right. This differs from traditional Lego bricks encourage creativity and architectural building, whereas the Mindstorms collection encourages children to be programmers as well as builders. Fortunately, there are instructions on the CD Rom that shows how to both build, program, and even give trial runs some forms.
For example, I was able to build a scorpion that would walk on the floor, and then “sting” with its tail. That was pretty cool. There is a robot that is the flagship of the Mindstorms project that I found quite difficult to build. Part of the problem was the wires, and they don’t really tuck out of sight as cleanly as the box makes it look.
Okay, if I, as an adult, found it difficult to build, just picture the frustration of a little child who cannot get this to work to save his or her life. However, I don’t think this is a reason not to buy this toy, because this will encourage perseverance on the part of your child.
As a parent, you will want to work on the Mindstorms Kit with your kids. However, you really should be doing that anyway as a parent, not just because it is responsible and you can spend more time with your kids, but because it is so much fun!
I believe that this toy can do some pretty incredible things once the user gets used to it. For example, there is a YouTube video of a Mindstorms set sorting out gumballs that I have included here. That is nothing like the Legos I used to play with as a kid.
This toy (if you can call it that) is available on the Lego site for about $249.99. The mini-computer takes 6 AA batteries.
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