It’s a common occurrence so don’t let it worry you. After a few weeks of coding with their favourite software, little Jimmy or Janie may come to you and say “Dad, Mum, I’m bored with Scratch/Blockly etc…. What else can I do?” It happens. It has happened, on countless occasions in our home base. And it’s natural. Don’t get me wrong – block based programming has its place. It provides a great introduction to logic, problem-solving and sequencing; demonstrating how making small changes can make big impacts. But what if your kid is not a fan of this drag and drop interface? They might possibly like to feel, to touch and to experience rather than just clicking and dragging things around. They may even have additional needs, which might prevent them from using a mouse and keyboard. How might we address such an issue? This is where Cubelets might come in handy. “Cubelets? What are Cubelets?” I hear you say.
Cubelets Are For Kids To Play With
Building with Cubelets is a different robotics experience. Pronounced ‘Cube Eh Lets’, they are actual, physical blocks that can inspire learning through play. A quirky product and a fresh take on robotics, they appear to be something that might just engage very young children (age 4+) in learning to build robots. One of the beauties of the product is that kids don’t need to know how code or wire electrical components to begin constructing pretty nifty creations. All they have to do is snap blocks together and magnetic forces do the rest. There is no wrong way to do it really. Every unique arrangement means a different and one-of-a-kind creation.
Break the Blocks Down
Each block or ‘cubelet’ has a name and a function. It is very important to know what each cubelet does individually so you can work out what they all do together as they are snapped together into various robots. There are three types:
- Action Cubelets do things. They are like outputs in a machine and can carry out various functions, including lighting up, moving forwards and backwards or spinning around.
- Sense Cubelets are like inputs. They respond to external factors like your sense of sight, touch or hearing. The sense cubelet takes the input and passes the information to the Think Cubelet.
- Think Cubelets are smart. As robots are machines that sense first – then think – then carry out an action, Think Cubelets are placed between Sense and Action Cubelets. They can carry out mathematical operations or logical functions, converting the input sense into data the Action Cubelet can understand and process to create output!
Are Cubelets Good Value For Money?
It really depends on how motivated you think your gang will be in using them. There are a number of options if you are considering buying. The 6-block option is available from both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It is quite versatile and interesting, comprising of drive, flashlight, distance, brightness, passive and battery Cubelets. However, you may find that the possibilities for various robotic designs will be limited. It is also possible add extra blocks to your inventory should you wish.
For a greater range of possible builds you might want to consider the 12-Block or 20-Block options. These will provide you with much more flexibility in terms of the types of reactive robots you can build and experiment with.
Cubelets is a very attractive product; it’s concept quite similar to that of Project Bloks. It’s just so simple and there are tons of possibilities for education. In my opinion, Cubelets have the potential to be a fantastic addition to a STEM classroom, or MakerSpace tool kit; but perhaps not really designed as a family activity toy. Let’s not duck the issue, expense may be a factor here but why not think beyond that. They may just provide that deep learning experience for every child who is looking for it. For example, to build a robot that stops before it falls off a table requires kids to think about design, testing, debugging and making changes – skills that are transferable, future-friendly and collaborative. What are Cubelets? Cubelets are fun!