(Written by William)
As you may or may not know, there are dozens of businesses that are built around the products of the LEGO Company, and to facilitate the LEGO hobby in general. Some of these companies make custom LEGO minifigure accessories, or other custom parts to work within the LEGO system. Others offer printing and engraving services on LEGO bricks, or even make jewelry out of LEGO elements. Today I would like to introduce you to Yantra Robotics, a company that utilizes the LEGO Education WeDo Construction Set to teach robotics. 🙂
If you haven’t heard of this set before, here is the official description from the LEGO Education website: The LEGO Education WeDo Construction Set is an easy-to-use set that introduces young students to robotics when combined with the LEGO Education WeDo Software v.1.2 and Activity Pack. Students will be able to build LEGO models featuring working motors and sensors; program their models; and explore a series of cross-curricular, theme-based activities while developing their skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as well as language, literacy, and social studies. The Construction Set comes with more than 150 elements including a motor, tilt sensor, motion sensor, and LEGO USB Hub.
So you may wonder, if LEGO Education is already providing instructions to work with the WeDo kit, what does Yantra Robotics do? Put it simply, the complex mechanisms in the LEGO Education WeDo Construction Set are built using a combination of simpler devices. What Yantra Robotics offers is a stripped-down look at these basic machines in a very raw, yet accessible way. They do this by offering a subscription service to view their library of instructions.
This is what Yantra Robotics say on their website: To offer an innovative brick and mortar (pun intended!) platform to build, learn and have fun exploring the wonderful world of robotics! We believe that having a good, solid educational foundation is the best way to grow. Whether you decide to become an artist, a scientist, a homemaker, a food expert, an educator, or a finance guru, having a strong knowledge of the fundamentals of science and engineering will open your eyes to the wonders of the world around you! We offer exclusive, field-tested designs created specifically for the LEGO WeDo kit. Our system instills a foundation in mechanics, engineering and programming and emphasizes core STEM skills. We test our designs in real classroom environments, with a range of ages, and skill sets. We constantly update and add to our designs to be in-line with current learning curves and trends. Dive into any of our designs and work at your own pace, partner up or fly solo, you choose your own adventure!
The projects on the Yantra Robotics website are categorized into five major areas: Battle Bots, Galaxy Bots, Construction Bots, Wizard Bots, and Kinder Bots (for younger kids). These categories are provided to help explain how a tool or machine may be used in a more practical design. Once in a category, you have the option to choose a model that both explains a simple device, and how it may connect in with a motor. What’s more is that this servo motor is also connected to a programmable hub that can receive input from the LEGO Education WeDo software. Some of the instructions will give you code you can use, as well as suggestions on how to alter the program for different results. In the video-player below you can see some of their robots in action.
I will have to say that most of the designs will not win any awards for looking great. Although there is the occasional model that will surprise you, most of them look plain at best. This problem stems from the limitations of the LEGO Education kit itself. It only provides some very basic colors and little in the way of detail-oriented pieces. Red, yellow, and green do not make anything look subtle or sophisticated. But if you focus too much on the appearance, you will miss the real offering of Yantra Robotics; the learning experience. I have assembled five of their models, and I learned something with each. Programming aside, the functional components alone made me consider how to improve upon other designs I made in the past. And when programming gets involved, these models take on a whole new level of enjoyment. Even the plainest machine comes to life in a way only robotics could offer. Between the servo motor and sensors, there are a surprising amount of possibilities you may not expect in such a bare-bones set.
Yantra Robotics offers classes for children in the California’s Bay Area, so if you are near, look them up. You can also subscribe to their program through their website YantraRobotics.com, and you will get access to everything. It is very inexpensive, and there are even a few designs you can try out for free. If you already have the LEGO Education WeDo kit, you can start working on them right away, if not, you can get everything you need in Yantra Robotics’ online store.
Personally I always felt a bit intimidated to tackle robotics in my LEGO building. By trying out Yantra Robotics I got a much better grasp of what is involved with creating robotic LEGO models, and it’s really not that bad. Anyhow, if you ever wanted to give LEGO robotics a try, this may be a good way for you to learn. I’m confident that Yantra Robotics will not leave you feeling overwhelmed in any stretch of the imagination. So you may want to check them out.
So what do you think? Have you ever tried the LEGO Education WeDo kit? Are you curious about learning to build and program your own robots? Do you consider checking out the projects at Yantra Robotics? Are the any other LEGO robotics programs that you would recommend? Feel free to share in the comment section below! 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
- Starting Out with LEGO Robotics
- Making of a LEGO Paper Plane Machine
- LEGO Mindstorms Easter Egg Decorator Robot
- LEGO Mindstorms Robot – LEGONADRO the Artist
- Walking LEGO Animals – So Much Fun!
- LEGO Pop-Ups & More Magical Creations
- LEGO Mindstorms the Ultimate Useless Machine
- The Great LEGO Ball Contraption…