Alternatives to Lego Mindstorms Kits

The most significant and fruitful thing parents can pass on to their children is the love of learning and exploring. Children who love to explore things gradually master the art of problem-solving. They learn to steer their ways out of challenging situations by stimulating their minds and using all their learnings and capabilities. 

However, it is almost impossible for parents or guardians to instill this learning without specialized toys or science kits. It is where STEM kits such as LEGO Mindstorms Kits come in handy. These high-quality STEM kits pave the way for effective learning of science and robotics. 

The infamous LEGO Mindstorms Kits had discontinued in 2021, so educationists and parents have been looking for suitable alternatives so that there is no compromise on their children’s learning. If you are also one of them and looking for such kits, this article will provide all the information about the alternatives, enlist their pros and cons, and provide a fair comparison of the products. So, let us dive in without further ado. 

Essential Skills Derived from STEM Education

Photo of Robot

STEM education stands for four of the most critical aspects of children’s brain development, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEM teaches children more than just science and mathematics. It is an efficient way of focusing on children’s learning and honing real-world skills. 

Also, as creativity and innovation are the fundamental prerequisites for success in the 21st century, STEM learning enables productivity, social skills, team performance, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. 

The primary learning derived from STEM kits is advanced critical thinking that sharpens children’s observation skills, focusing abilities, reasoning, and effective communication. Moreover, the most significant aspect of working with STEM kits is that children get first-hand experience with various robotics models or electronic circuits, enabling them to go out in the world with immense experience. 

Some Alternatives to Lego Mindstorms Kits 

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Matatalab Coding Robot Set, STEM Education Toy for Kids
Lego Boost Creative Toolbox
Makeblock mBot STEM Projects for Kids
4M Tin Can Robot - DIY Science Construction Stem Toy For Kids & Teens
Nintendo Labo - Variety Kit


1. Matatalab Coding Robot Set, STEM Education Toy for Kids


It is one of the best coding sets for kids to learn through technology and explore countless possibilities of various arrangements of coding blocks. The primary function of this STEM toy for kids is to control a robotic car via coding algorithms.

The whole set is enjoyable for kids and teaches them the critical connection between coding instructions and their resulting functions. The command tower in the set is the primary controller that lets kids connect to the coding board. The colorful LED lights on various parts help kids turn off the set. It is easily charged with a USB-C charging port

Pros 

  • High-quality parts

  • Coding is simple, even for a novice

  • Various design possibilities for kids


Cons 

  • Instructions are not very clear



2. Lego Boost Creative Toolbox


This Lego boost creative kit is the best if you are starting STEM education with your kids. It is an exceptional robotics kit that gradually challenges the span of children’s creativity by starting with simple exercises and building up to complex ones.

This kit by Lego is based on a graphical coding interface that is quite easy to learn. A detailed instruction manual provides assembly directions for the five models included in the box. The best feature of this Lego Boost Creative Toolbox is that it is very approachable and easy to understand, even for beginners without prior knowledge of electronics.

Hence, this robotics kit not only helps your kid learn STEM knowledge but also instills confidence by instigating creativity.

Pros 

  • Easily to understand

  • An abundance of structured activities for the kids to follow

  • Provides endless fun

  • No previous knowledge of electronics is required



Cons 

  • The app might be problematic at times

  • Dependent on further add-ons released by Lego



3. Makeblock mBot STEM Projects for Kids


Makeblock mBot is the next best thing to Lego Creative Toolbox for beginners. It comprises common industrial robots, yet, it is very user-friendly. It accompanies a special 3D instruction manual which is extremely easy to follow. Also, the app is super friendly and helpful.

This boxed kit by Makeblock comes with about three pre-programmed operating modes, allowing the robot to be functional the moment you finish building it. One of the most significant features of this robotic kit is that it requires assembling with machine screws instead of the Lego snap mechanism.

Also, some of the activities in Makeblock mBot might require prior learning or knowledge of dealing with such sets, which is why this set might not be suitable for beginners.

Pros 

  • The kit can be expanded when kids outgrow it

  • Variety of structured activities

  • Durable


Cons 

  • A tad bit unsteady on rough floors

  • Advanced configurations are only dependent on purchasing add-on parts

  • Adult supervision is mandatory as pieces have to be screwed together



4. 4M Tin Can Robot - DIY Science Construction Stem Toy For Kids & Teens


It is, by far, the most affordable option to introduce the basics of robotics to your kids. It is the most hands-on learning experience of building robotics with ordinary things from our daily life. This 4M Tin Can Robot is made of a repurposed soda can, which is used to create the robot’s body. It instills the virtues of caring about the environment and recycling in children.

You can assemble it quickly, under an hour or so, and the kids can have a free hand to decorate the can. However, as pointed out in the cons listed about this kit, there is nothing else to this highly affordable STEM toy for kids other than merely building it.

Besides building this robot, children can only move it straight ahead. It is a fantastic introductory STEM kit that lets you check the interest of your children in robotics.

Pros 

  • The most affordable option

  • Easy to understand


Cons 

  • It does not hold much learning potential

  • Kids might outgrow it too quickly



5. Nintendo Labo - Variety Kit


Steering your child’s mind away from their Nintendo Switch is now easy with the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit. It is an enjoyable learning experience that starts with simple activities and progresses in the most natural ways in complexity.

The whole deal comprises about five different projects that are well-defined. Children can expand on their ideas and be creative with the building process. The interface helping with programming and algorithmic thinking is also very apt and updated.

However, not all is best with this Nintendo Labo Variety Kit. While attempting to do an impressive job by introducing cardboard construction, the manufacturers have compromised the quality of the kit. One water spill can ruin the entire construction.

Pros 

  • Clear instructions given

  • Progressive activities starting from simpler ones

  • It can integrate with video games


Cons 

  • The new cardboard material is not very durable

  • No expansions by Nintendo or other third-party manufacturers



Comparison Table

Ease of UseLego Boost Creative Toolbox is the easiest of all in terms of assembly. Although Nintendo Labo Variety Kit comes with the most precise instructions and detailed guide about assembling the robots, the Lego kit wins the contest as children are already familiar with that. Also, the snap feature for assembling minor parts of the robot and machine is the best for little hands. Makeblock mBot is more difficult for beginners and might require adult supervision.  
STEM Topics CoveredLego Boost and Makeblock mBot stand out for covering more than general mechanical design topics, such as motors, forces, and gears. They familiarize kids with ultrasonic touch sensors. 
Versatility Makeblock mBot is the most versatile of all the sets mentioned above as it starts gradually by controlling the robot and ends with text-based Arduino coding. 

STEM Learning is Essential

When we try and prepare our kids for a technology-laden future, STEM learning becomes more important than ever. This type of learning enhances children’s knowledge about robotics and mechanics while also broadening the horizon for continuous learning in the same field.