Which LEGO kit?

Getting started with LEGO robotics can feel overwhelming because there are so many options. Here is a brief guide to the various kits.

 EV3 (educational and retail versions)

edge ev3

Newest programmable brick. Kit comes with programmable brick, motors, sensors and LEGO technic parts. Suitable for ages ten and up. Used in FIRST LEGO League competitions.

Software is an icon-based programming language. Software is easy to learn and has greater capabilities than the NXT Mindstorms software.

Educational vs retail. The EV3 kit comes in two versions, retail and educational. Both sets include two large motors, one medium motor, a color sensor, and a touch sensor. The retail set also includes an infrared sensor, and a remote IR beacon. The educational set includes an ultrasonic sensor, a second touch sensor, a gyro sensor, and a rechargeable battery.

The retail kit comes with the EV3 software. With the educational kit, the software must be purchased separately. The educational software includes data logging, which is not part of the retail kit.

MINDSTORMS NXT (educational and retail versions)

edge nxt

Kit comes with programmable brick, motors, sensors, and LEGO technic parts. Suitable for ages ten and up. Used in FIRST LEGO League competitions.

Software is an icon-based programming language. Software is easy to learn, but has a relatively low ceiling. For high school students, a more powerful language such as LabVIEW may be more appropriate.

Educational vs retail. The MINDSTORMS NXT kit comes in two versions, retail and educational. Both sets include three motors, an ultrasonic sensor, and two touch sensors. The retail set includes more plastic Technic pieces than the educational set.The retail kit also has a color sensor. The educational kit includes a light sensor, a sound sensor, lamps, and a rechargeable battery.

The retail kit comes with the MINDSTORMS software. With the educational kit, the software must be purchased separately. The educational software includes data logging, which is not part of the retail kit.

RCX

edge rcx

The first LEGO programmable brick, before the NXT. No longer supported.

WeDo

edge wedo

Beginning robotics kit for ages ten and under. Kit comes with motors, sensors, and a limited number of parts. Robots must be run tethered to the computer.

Software is very easy to learn, but has a low ceiling.

TETRIX and MATRIX

edge tetrix

Kits of metal parts that can be used with LEGO Mindstorms NXT. Larger, heavier, and sturdier than the LEGO Mindstorms’ plastic pieces. Motors are more powerful than the NXT or EV3 motors. Both kits require tools for putting together pieces rather than having pieces snap together as in LEGO Mindstorms. Used in FIRST Technic Challenge (FTC) competitions. Good for older students interested in building bigger and sturdier robots, but more time-consuming to build with than NXT of EV3.

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