The trend in early computer science education has been to combine lessons with fun activities, toys and play. Kano and Robolink both showcased their award winning solutions at CES 2019. LEGO has announced their own STEM education set targeted at younger students, the LEGO Education SPIKE Prime set.
Aimed at middle school students, the SPIKE Prime set is a “powerful STEAM learning solution… that combines LEGO bricks, coding language based on Scratch, and a programmable multi-port Hub to help every learner become a confident learner.” Using hands on lessons, students will be equipped to not only create working machinery in LEGO, but also program its functions and features.
This all starts with the unique LEGO pieces made specifically for this set. For starters, it contains a multi-port programmable Hub that features a 5×5 light matrix, 6 input/output ports, integrated 6-axis gyro, speaker, bluetooth connectivity and a rechargeable battery. Other pieces in the over 500 piece set include new frames, bases, wheels, and wire clips, along with some more standard looking LEGO pieces.
Once their model is created, students can learn the basics of coding through the dedicated SPIKE App available on iOS, Chrome, Windows 10, Mac and Android. The app uses Scratch, a block-based visual coding language that will help students understand fundamentals of computer science without focusing too narrowly on coding conventions, styles, and languages.
For students new to computer science, the set offers SPIKE Prime Units that will help students “think critically and to solve complex problems, regardless of their learning level.” Once students gain a level of familiarity with building and coding, they can tackle the Invention Squad unit, which focuses more on the entire design process, essentially creating something on their own. Other courses include “Kickstart a Business,” “Life Hacks” and “Competition Ready.”
SPIKE Prime joins LEGO’s overall education sets, which includes its closely related but more complicated LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core Set. It is currently available for pre-order, priced at $329.95, and is expected to ship in August.