Sunday, September 25, 2011

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Number One Son is, like most ten year olds, pretty bad with his money (in my stodgy, fatherly opinion). My exhortations to save his money tend to fall on deaf ears. But he is a Lego fan, so at some point I told him that if he would save up half the $260 price tag for the Lego Mindstorms base set, I would pay for the other half. I was a little skeptical when he took me up on it, but he saved his money all summer and, with, I suspect, more than a little help from some grandparents, made the goal last week. He was pretty enthusiastic about it-- he started building the "humanoid" robot Alpha Rex without any instructions, just eyeballing the box! I slowed him down a bit, got the electronic instructions installed on the computer, and encouraged him to start the intro kit. His Shooterbot shot all the gaming group that came over last night for some Race for the Galaxy. I woke up this morning to find him already up, the Shooterbot disassembled, and most of Alpha Rex built. I think to him, it's not a robot if it's not humanoid. He keeps talking about how he has a toy robot, and I keep trying to convince him that, no, this is a real robot. I think it's starting to sink in.

He was like this for too long before I discovered him-- boy, get your butt in the chair and get your glasses on!!


  1. Lego Mindstorms is a fantastic introductory robotics kit - the NXT cpu unit is surprisingly powerful (we use it as our "brain" in robotics competitions as it processes Robot C very efficiently.

    I go my son (who is now 16) the Mindstorm kit when he was about the same age and it's been full tilt robotics ever since.

    While your son may be a bit young, check out the FIRST Lego league, which is a middle school age competition - their free to attend and a lot of fun. One warning it's a bit addictive as you move on to the High School level competitions!


  2. Thanks, Miles! Somebody already told me about that-- and it turns out his Middle School has a team! He'll be there next year, but since he meets the minimum age requirement (9+, he's 10), I have tried to get in touch with them about joining. If not this year, then hopefully next.

    And our HS robotics team made the front page of our local paper-- it's robots all 'round here!