Lego Boost$159.95 (MSRP)
Lego Boost is an impressive 840+ piece robot kit that allows kids to build, code, and play with a robot that can do a laundry list of activities and turn into five different models. At a MSRP of $159.95, it’s a bit more pricey than some of the kits we’ve reviewed, but it’s also cheaper than the other popular Lego robot kit, Mindstorm. Lego Boost performs at a rate that’s well worth this price, and kids will no doubt have fun and learn a lot while using it.
The Boost kit contains 847 pieces, which is admittedly a lot. But they’re all packaged neatly in baggies within the larger box. Boost features two motors and a color and distance sensor as part of the included parts and a mat for kids to use to help design programs. The kit does not contain batteries (six AAA batteries are needed); a tablet is also needed to to download and use the Boost app to code and access step-by-step instructions.
HOW IT WORKS
Boost has five different robots that can be built:
- Vernie the robot
- Frankie the cat
- Guitar 4000
- M.T.R. 4
- Auto Builder
Each model has one thing in common: the Move Hub, which is the centralized hub that contains the batteries, bluetooth connector, and sensors, as well as a couple ports that will become connected with wires during the building process.
Kids build each model one by one. The app instructs them what to do, and once the model is complete, the app will walk them through coding the robot. There’s a lot of room for personalization and each model has a variety of commands it can follow. Boost uses a drag-and-drop programming language that is simple and easy-to-use. Once kids are finished programming a command, they’ll press a “play” button and watch the robot run the command. It’s also possible to run several programs at once.
Kids work through several challenges with each robot. Altogether, there are about 60 challenges across the five models. The app used is simple and contains no words, so kids who don’t know how to read yet can use it. For those who wish to write their own programs from scratch, you can go to the Coding Canvas mode and work on custom programs.
A gridded mat is also included to help kids space out how far the robot needs to be programmed to move forward or turn (for example, three spaces forward instead of two). This is especially helpful for kids who build the robots with no adult assistance; the mat gives them a visual idea of how far the robot should be programmed.
Watch this video to see a time lapse of all 5 builds:
LEGO’s latest robotics toys is everything a young coder could possibly want in order to learn programming basics, particularly with five different models to try out.Each model has a variety of activities and commands it can perform, from a guitar that makes music to a imitation 3D printer that builds miniature Lego models. Boost is recommended for children ages 7–12, and that seems like a perfect age range, although kids younger than 7 would also enjoy it with assistance — the lack of words on the app makes it accessible even to those who can’t yet read. For kids older than 12, Lego Mindstorm EV3 is a better fit.
One of our favorite things about Boost is how kids will never get tired of it — between the five models and all the activities for each model, there are endless opportunities. Additionally, the ability to write custom programs will also keep the robot interesting and fun for kids. The range of available activities is pretty great, and there’s something that everyone will enjoy: building a rocket shooter for Vernie that will knock down a sign, custom programming your voice into Guitar 4000, and many more fun activities.
Aside from having fun with the robot, kids will also learn a lot about coding. The drag-and-drop programming language is a perfect introduction to kids who have little to no coding experience, and they’ll also learn about the basics of building a robot when they put together each model and connect the wires and pieces together. One unique thing about this kit is that kids don’t have to wait until the robot is completely build to code it; lower-level challenges ask kids to program the robot as it’s being built. This way kids can have fun and see the fruits of their labor before spending a full few hours building the bot.
Lego, living up to their quality, has made a tough robot — its parts are durable and sturdy and can stand up to the test of time with kids. The bricks included in the kit could also be used with any other Lego bricks your kids already own, leaving room for endless customization options.
One potential con: If the batteries need to be changed, it’s easier to make the switch when the robot is deconstructed. So if the batteries die when you’re in the middle of having fun with the robot, it can be a hassle to change them without breaking the whole thing down.
Another potential con is that a tablet is required, so that can be some extra money you have to shell out if your family doesn’t already have one. Apple, Android, and Kindle Fire tablets are all compatible.
Lego Boost is, dare we say it, a near-perfect robot for younger children to use. It’s colorful, fun, easy-to-use, and allows for a lot of customization. While it’s pricier than some other kits we’ve reviewed, it’s cheaper than other kits of its level of functionality; this kit has over 60 activities and five different models. Programs can also be custom built, which will keep your kids busy for hours at a time. While a tablet and batteries are required, everything else is included in the kit and will be ready to put together right out of the box. And while younger kids might need some assistance in building the bot, the programs and instructions are simple enough for kids old enough to do on their own.