Building a Lego robot can help you understand coding basics

Nearly everyone has played with Legos at some point in their lives. But with the advent of smartphones and tablets, the Denmark-based company has had to think beyond its blocks, creating apps and game tie-ins to ensure the brand remains relevant among the younger set.

The latest such offering is the Lego Boost kit. The $159 collection of bricks allows you to create five different models including a robot and kitten. Then, using the Lego Boost app for Apple’s iPad and Android tablets, you can program their movements and actions however you want. The idea is to give kids a basic introduction to the world of coding by allowing them to link simple commands in what Lego calls a digital carpet.

It’s a pricey kit and a bit of a complex build, but Lego Boost is one of the most impressive coding-assisted toys I’ve had the pleasure of playing with during office hours.

Vernie looks like “Short Circuit’s” Johnny 5, but, you know, made of legos.

Your very own robot

Lego’s Boost kit gives you the option of starting out by building one of its five available models. I chose to build the robot Vernie not only because it looked like the most interesting of the group, but also because I’m a giant child and always wanted a robot of my own.

Unlike the Lego kits from your childhood, Lego Boost doesn’t come with those classic paper instructions that are impossible to refold. Instead, the Boost app contains all of the instructions you need to bring your creation to life. It’s a small change, but one that makes following the directions worlds easier, as you can quickly flip back and forth between the app’s screens to see where exactly your next piece should go.

The Lego Boost app guides you through the build process in place of old-school paper instructions.

And for builds as complicated as the Boost’s offerings, that’s a huge help. The kit is labeled for ages 7 to 12, and sure, it’s not like you’re building a scale model of the New York skyline, but it’s a bit more time-consuming than I expected.

The detail that Lego put into the design of each model is incredibly impressive, especially when you compare it to the old pirate ships you built as a kid. These things took some serious engineering to come up with. Heck, the gears that you put together to control the robot’s eyebrows alone were impressive.

Coding with your Legos

Once you finish building your model, the Boost app will ask you to press a green button in the center of the main control…

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