When Lego introduced the Mindstorms EV3 earlier this year, it bundled building instructions for five "hero" models, several of which can be seen in our CES hands-on. But that complex kit of sensors, modules and bricks lends itself to endless possibilities, and Lego community members have come up with 12 more designs, three of which were unveiled today. These include a dinosaur, a guitar and a whack-a-mole-style arcade game.
From our brief hands-on, all three models seem worthy additions to the original lineup. We enjoyed the sauntering steps of the mini triceratops and the way it snaps and backs off from obstacles, the fun bloops and bleeps of the guitar, and delighted in the sheer satisfaction of bopping a popped "mole." The latter two, particularly, are decidedly whimsical implementations compared to the usual ambling robot -- and we can't wait for Lego to reveal the rest of the bonus models later this year.
As part of the announcement, these contraptions and more will be part of a summer cross-country tour called SparkTruck, where Lego will join up with Stanford's d.school Institute of Design to teach children how to start prototyping. What with the EV3 educational platform set to land in schools this August, Lego's timing is certainly spot-on. Have a peek below at the fully built creations that kids can look forward to, along with a video demo.
Lego Mindstorms EV3 bonus models press shots
Lego Mindstorms EV3 bonus models hands-on
LEGO® MINDSTORMS PARTNERS WITH STANFORD D.SCHOOL'S SPARKTRUCK TO KICK OFF A PLAY-MAKER SUMMER AT MAKER FAIRE BAY AREA 2013
- Company Adds Robotics to Kid-Friendly Prototyping Truck for Ultimate Cross-Country Summer Maker Tour to Engage and Inspire Next Generation of Innovators -
- Will Unveil New LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Maker-Inspired Bonus Models Throughout the Summer Tour -
ENFIELD, Conn. (May 16, 2013 ) – LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3 and SparkTruck have teamed up to create the ultimate maker mobile that will tour this summer to invigorate the maker spirit of children across the country. MINDSTORMS EV3, the new consumer platform designed to introduce a younger generation to the excitement of robotics, partners with SparkTruck, the mobile prototyping truck that began at the Stanford d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford) and was created using the principles of design thinking, to engage children with experiences and tools that can help them fulfill their greatest creative potential in an unexpected, innovative and fun environment. At Maker Faire Bay Area, May 18-19, 2013, the grad student-run SparkTruck will demonstrate representative workshop activities for its summer tour while the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 team will unveil the first three bonus models designed by MINDSTORMS community members. The MINDSTORMS team will introduce nine additional bonus models throughout the summer and building instructions for the 12 bonus models and the original five "hero' models will be available when the platform reaches store shelves this fall.
"When SparkTruck was born last year, we had no idea where the journey would take us. It's thrilling that a student project has evolved into a Stanford design school course and that the concept will live on and continue to pay it forward," said Susie Wise, director of the d.K12 lab network at Stanford's d.school. "Many of our students here grew up playing with LEGO MINDSTORMS, so partnering with them validates our mission to bring kids prototyping tools and a next generation mindset. We want to spark future interests and careers from engineers, scientists and architects to artists, designers and activists."
The SparkTruck will hit the road in July and journey across the United States through August. Integrating robotics into the traveling "educational build-mobile" will engage new and existing enthusiasts and pave the way for more exciting creations to come. Redesigned to excite and challenge an audience that has grown up in a technology- and mobile-driven world, the EV3 platform experience can be un-tethered from the computer with new features like on-brick programming and 3D building instructions for the five hero models that can be built out of the box. Furthermore, as children seek and are able to develop a more customized playtime, EV3 has incorporated new features to help them add more personality to their robots while exerting more control over the entire experience.
"Today's kids have different expectations about the interactivity of their toys and the ability to fluidly integrate online and offline experiences as they play. Young people now incorporate personal attributes and design preferences into their playthings. They want to create their own toys to represent and express themselves," said Lyn Jefferey, Institute for the Future research director. "With tools like LEGO MINDSTORMS and 3D printing and initiatives like SparkTruck, kids can actually co-design and produce toys and various extensions alongside traditional manufacturers." Information on this and the Institute for the Future's other Transformative Changes for Young People at Play insights can be found at www.EV3MakerFaire.com.
When LEGO MINDSTORMS launched in 1998, it introduced the world to the original "smart toy". In the 15 years since, the renowned platform has driven the growth of the consumer robotics category and helped inspire the Maker Movement by encouraging hands-on play and an unprecedented level of tinkering with every aspect of the set from hardware to software to the LEGO elements themselves. As a result, the LEGO MINDSTORMS community quickly grew to over 50,000 members with over 15,000 creations from a giant chess set to a pancake maker to a flying blimp.
"I consider myself a maker and attribute the time and encouragement I was given to tinker to my career success today. Never would I have thought that my love of LEGO bricks combined with a knack for technology when I was young would mean I'd be creating cool robotic creatures for my job," said Lasse Stenbæk Lauesen, LEGO MINDSTORMS software and applications developer. "That's the thing with MINDSTORMS and SparkTruck-type activities; children explore their creativity while developing skills that may lead them to future career paths–all while having a good time and using their imagination. Together we're taking play to the next level."
LEGO MINDSTORMS & SparkTruck at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013
LEGO MINDSTORMS and SparkTruck will be located side by side along the Midway grass area at booth O4
at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 at the San Mateo County Events Center this Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. LEGO MINDSTORMS will showcase the first three bonus models – an electric guitar, an arcade-style game and a dinosaur –at the event. Building instructions for these and other models will be available online for users when the product launches to help expand their building portfolio and inspire other creations.
LEGO MINDSTORMS asks that robotics fans and makers alike go to SparkTruck's "Arrange a Visit" page on their website to tell stories of how they are an "xtreme play-maker" and share previous MINDSTORMS creations that brought their playtime to the next level. The creators of select submissions will be chosen to receive a visit from the SparkTruck and will win a new MINDSTORMS EV3 toolkit for their community.
LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 will be available at most toy and discount merchandise retailers and online stores in the second half of 2013 and will have a suggested retail price of $349.99(USD).