Last week, during one of the rare times the whole Robot Test Kitchen crew was together in person, we were discussing our favorites among the robots we’ve tested. By and large, we all like Cubelets, but several of our team members have their criticisms, including the high price tag and
discomfort with their marketing techniques we have felt frustrated by the requirement to complete a survey, sign a media release, and send a picture in order to receive Educator gifts (Edited 11/5/14, JC). I, however, am unabashedly fond of Cubelets because they work on so many levels. So, as promised, here is my love letter:
The first time I got my hands on Cubelets was during a “Technology Petting Zoo” at the June ILEADUSA session, and they pulled together all the elements that I had learned about robotics thus far and made it easy and foolproof to snap together and create a working robot (there were also instructions available, but starting with instructions isn’t my style). I was actually giddy as I put together a motor, motion sensor, and battery to create a little contraption that would follow my hand or foot across the floor. That’s when I fell in love with them; if they could create such a spark in a seasoned librarian like me, imagine how great it would be to hand them to a child.
I’ve used Alice Shertle’s picture book All You Need For a Snowman for several years in storytimes. In it, a few materials (snow, hat, carrot, etc.) combine to create a snowman. Similarly, Cubelets are “all you need for a robot.” Snapping together Cubelets builds a knowledge base that can be used to build more advanced robots because the elements are the same: motors, sensors, power source. I’ve put Cubelets in the hands of Kindergartners and they were able to make something that goes, much to their delight, but I’d also use Cubelets as a teaching tool with older kids ready to begin building more advanced robots. I know the price tag is hefty, but these are fun, educational, and durable, which is all I could hope for when introducing robotics to children.Opinions are my own and not endorsed by Cubelets or Modular Robotics (though they are certainly welcome to send some free stuff).