Move over Optimus: Spike Prime is here

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Regardless of my age, Lego will always have a special place in my heart. I remember playing with my uncle’s old Lego kit and creating spacecrafts and fancy cars on a day to day basis. Since then, obviously, a lot has changed for Lego. With Lego Technic, you could create more advanced models that had complex technical functions. Then came Lego Mindstorm. This offered a software and hardware platform to develop programmable robots. The latest to the Lego line is the Lego Spike Prime.

Spike Prime
Even now, 42 years after being launched, Lego still has a place in all our hearts (Image Credits: The Brothers Brick)

What exactly is Lego Spike Prime?

Aimed at younger, middle school-aged children, the Spike Prime robotics kit provides an introduction to robotics, engineering, and coding. Think of it as a simpler approach to the Lego Mindstorm kit mentioned above.

Spike Prime
Think of Lego’s Spike Prime kit as a simpler approach to their Mindstorm lineup of building blocks (Image Credits: GeekSpin)

The Spike Prime kit, targeted toward children from grades 6-8 contains over 500 Technic pieces. The kit is also programmed using a Lego-made app built off the Scratch language. A number of new bricks are included in the new kit as well. These include a 3×3 frame used to make building easier, a base plate, easily mountable wheels along with wire clips to make your project look all neat and tidy.

What do you get with a Lego Spike Prime kit?

The Spike Prime kit consists of three motors, three sensors and the Smart Hub The hub is the central brick that contains six ports, a speaker, 5×5 light matrix, a 6-axis gyroscope, Bluetooth, and a rechargeable battery. Making sure you can keep track of all the little pieces, the packaging of the Spike Prime kit also acts as a storage box.

Spike Prime
The contents of the Lego Spike Prime kit (Image Credits: The Verge)

Rather than asking students to create robots from their imagination with no guidance, the Lego Spike Prime kit rather gets students to solve specific problems. If you’re new to Spike Prime, you can start by working via their included units. These are lessons that are around 45 minutes in duration. The lessons teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In addition, Lego is also offering lesson plans for teachers to get started in the classroom.

Spike Prime
Once students have gotten the hang of how Spike Prime works, they can move on to more advanced projects (Image Credits: EnGadget)

Once students have gotten sufficient knowledge in building with Lego Spike Prime, they can move on to more advanced projects such as the Invention Squad unit. This unit is all about designing, testing, and evaluating prototypes.

Spike Prime Is not just about the hardware

The app used to program Spike Prime is the Lego Education Spike App. Coding using the program is based on a drag-and-drop coding environment, which is easy for students to understand and do. The app itself runs on Google Chrome, Windows 10, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. It should be noted that Lego is using its own implementation of Scratch for Spike Prime.

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Programming with the Spike Prime Kit involves a dragging and dropping environment (Image Credit: SlashGear)

How much is the Lego Spike Prime?

This is where things get unappealing. The Lego Spike Prime kit starts off at $329.95. Convert that to local currency and that’s approximately LKR 58,000 for a “box of building blocks”. If you’ve been around stores in Sri Lanka, you would have noticed that Lego products are not exactly wallet-friendly. But since these are aimed at students, schools could actually invest in these building blocks and perhaps even combine existing Lego kits to create some truly remarkable designs.

Move over Optimus: Spike Prime is here 9

After all, the beauty of Lego was that regardless of what year it was manufactured and what kit it came from, it would be backwards and forwards compatible. In addition, considering that robotics plays and will continue to play an important role in the development of IT across the world, this can be the perfect place to start. Although expensive at first, the benefits of this would be much greater in the long run.

You can check out more details about the Lego Spike Prime kit here.

What do you think about the Lego Spike Prime kit? Would you get one? Leave a comment below

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