Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

LEGO Mindstorms®NXT

LEGO Mindstorms®NXT

Fall 2006 Toys
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: The LEGO Group
Price: $249.99
Mindstorms® NXT is an extraordinary product that provides the tools necessary for novices and enthusiasts to build and program robots. The LEGO advanced NXT technology allows the use of three servo motors and four sensors (touch, light, sound, and ultrasonic) so that the robot can move and interact with its environment. The software (for Windows or Macintosh) has an easy to use icon drag and drop system for programming your inventions. Programs are easily downloaded to the NXT robot brain via USB cable or by a wireless Bluetooth connection.

For those of us new to the world of robotics, there was quite a learning curve to even begin to understand the limitless possibilities of building and programming robots. Now we know. The possibilities with this toy are only limited by our imaginations. We just have to think of something that we want the robot to do, and then create the program that executes the task. One fun idea we found was to create a robot that sits in the refrigerator and when the door is opened, the light sensor detects the light and prompts the robot to tip his hat. We're just not sure how well the batteries will hold up in the cold temperature.

Model instructions and start up programs provided with this product are only the tip of the iceberg of inventions to create and programs to develop. The Mindstorms' website has lots to explore for programming tips and instructions for other robot models.

It is amazing how long you can spend watching a robot do the same task over and over again. What makes this toy different is everything that you did to get it to perform that task.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2006 Parents' Choice
Don and Ellie Homce are the parents of two sons. Ellie is a former chemistry and physical science teacher and trainer in the hazardous materials field. Currently a professional volunteer at local schools and a thrift shop, Ellie continues to pursue her interests in art. Don is a health and safety and environmental science professional who enjoys building and fixing things. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for the past ten years.

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