Lego is announcing its new Spike Prime robotics kit, which is designed to introduce a younger, middle school-aged customer to robotics, engineering, and coding in a way that’s simpler and more goal-oriented than its Mindstorms kits.
The new $330 Spike Prime kit is targeted toward children in grades 6–8. It includes over 500 Technic pieces, and it’s programmed using a Lego-made app built off the Scratch language. Lego is also introducing some new Technic bricks with the kit, like a 3x3 frame used to make building easier, a base plate that can be used to prototype students’ designs, wheels that are easy to mount to motors, and even wire clips to keep it all tidy.
The Spike Prime’s box contains three motors, three sensors, and the Smart Hub, a central brick that contains six ports, a speaker, 5x5 light matrix, a 6-axis gyroscope, Bluetooth, and a rechargeable battery. The packaging also doubles as a storage box to keep track of all the pieces.
Lego’s Spike Prime kit is goal-oriented, so instead of asking students to conjure up robots using hundreds of Technic bricks, the kit is all about teaching younger kids about problem-solving by giving them guidance and a specific goal. New students can start by working through included Spike Prime Units, which are 45-minute lessons that teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Lego is also offering lesson plans for teachers to get started in the classroom.
Once kids gain experience in building and programming, they can move onto more advanced projects that involve less hand-holding, like the Invention Squad unit, which is all about designing, testing, and evaluating prototypes.
The Lego Education Spike App that’s used to program Spike Prime creations is based on a drag-and-drop coding environment that young children will be able to quickly pick up. It’s supported by Chrome, Windows 10, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. Lego is using its own implementation of Scratch for Spike Prime, although its version seems to be more robust than a simpler learn-to-code kit like Anki’s Cozmo.
Lego’s Spike Prime will cost $329.95, and it will be sold “in all markets” starting in August, with preorders starting today in the United States.