What is it? Far more than a toy, the Lego Mindstorms EV3 is a robot with real computing power. The device includes an ARM9 processor (enough to power a laptop) a USB port and Internet connectivity. The EV3 also has three interactive servo motors, a remote control, a color sensor, a touch sensor, an infrared sensor and a lot more.
How does it work? The EV3 lets students build a robot and program it to perform a variety of functions. Students can control the robot via remote control, computer or smart phone interface. There are a number of included configurations, endless ideas students can try themselves and lots of Web sites devoted to programming the various MindStorms models.
How hard is it to use? It’s not as simple as building a Lego house, but it’s not beyond most students in fourth grade and up.
How well does it work? The EV3 is not a remote-controlled car that looks like a robot. It’s a high-powered computing device that can do some pretty impressive things. And while it’s not quite likely to gain consciousness and attempt to take over your classroom, it’s definitely a useful learning tool.
How do I use it in the classroom? The EV3 demonstrates practical implementation of computer programming and helps build students’ engineering skills. Since the EV3 is fun for adults, too, teachers may even be tempted to take it home at night.
Article by Daniel B. Kline, EducationWorld Contributing Editor
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