Hello Vernie! Building our first robot with Lego Boost

Lego fever continues in the Chu household with Lego Boost and the building of Vernie, a surprisingly endearing robot that can be easily programmed with a few swipes on the iPad. So of course we’ve made a little video of the unboxing and build process!

 

Little Miss had a Lego-themed party for her 6th birthday and was gifted the Lego Boost set!

I have to say – I thought it would take the girls (currently age 6 and 8) a couple of days or so to build Vernie. I mean – this isn’t a Friends Treehouse set. It’s a working robot. Surely that’s a fiddly, pretty complicated kind of thing. “Don’t worry if you only just get part of it done today, we can always continue tomorrow,” I said casually as they eagerly tipped the 847 Lego pieces onto a clear table.

Miss Chu has dabbled with Lego WeDo before, and found the assembly and programming a little frustrating at times. I announced that I would be on standby to help if they needed me, and then left them to it.

After about three hours of building, the girls had completed a fully-functioning Vernie – with minimal intervention from me. I was pretty shocked. Firstly – that they managed to build it correctly, and secondly, that it worked straightaway. All instructions were provided via the Lego Boost app, a wordless graphic interface which they navigated easily. “But where’s the menu?” I asked peering over Miss Chu’s shoulder. “What menu? You just click on the different parts of the picture to find what you need,” came the impatient reply.

The girls exploring the Lego Boost app

All credit to Lego – with Boost they’ve designed something that kids understand. It’s not only straightforward to make – it actually surprisingly robust and can take stress and strain of being manhandled by kids without falling apart.

Although Miss Chu was overseeing the building process, even Little Miss was able to follow the instructions and build many of the components herself. I’d say she could probably have managed 80-90% of the build on her own. It works quite well as a project for two kids, because Vernie is perfectly symmetrical so they could sort of simultaneously work on one side each. Amazingly the girls worked really well together on the build, with unusually low levels of bickering.

The construction is broken up into manageable chunks and is cleverly sequenced to motivate kids to keep going. For example, the head goes on quite quickly, at which point the robot makes the jump from a bunch of bricks to “Vernie”. He takes on a persona and all of a sudden the kids are talking to it. They can also start to programme the robot without having even made the arms and legs, so he comes to life quite early on!

Little Miss manages to assemble parts of Vernie quite independently

Not only was the build very achievable for kids – the programming is very child-friendly too. It uses a pictorial drag-and-drop block programming interface where each block has a little icon to describe its action. Some blocks can be modified: for example, you can define distances moved or sounds made. And there are enough interesting, humorous and customisable actions to keep the kids entertained with the programming. My two also loved building the little accessories for Vernie and decked him out with sunglasses, a bow tie and a microphone! So far they’ve managed to make him talk, dance, shoot an arrow and move round an obstacle course.

Presenting their first Lego Boost robot!

The girls have really taken to Vernie and are enjoying discovering what this little robot can do; I can foresee that it’s going to be hard to convince them to dismantle him to try the other Boost projects!

My only gripe is that Vernie is eating his way through my supply of AAA batteries rather quickly….😅.

Wishing all our friends and readers a Happy New Year, hope you will continue to join us on EveryChusDay in 2018!

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences of Lego Boost with us. It certainly looks like the girls have had a lot of fun making the robot. And it’s great to see that it can be made into 4 more projects. I’d love to get this for our daughter, but wonder if we’d end up doing most of it, as she mostly enjoys making up stories with her Lego Friends sets. Perhaps the interaction with the iPad app would help to encourage a different way of playing, as she already enjoys playing The Foos, which has a similar method for programming.

    • I know what you mean – realistically, the Lego Boost box doesn’t look as appealing to a 6 yr old girl as the Friends or Disney sets! So you may need to provide some motivation to get her started, perhaps by watching a movie / reading a book about a cute robot character? The girls knew I was filming them, which kind of focused their minds on the task 😂. Does A like the actual building or does she prefer playing with the finished product? I’d say if its the latter, maybe hold off for a year. For us, it helped that Miss Chu was involved, as her younger sister wanted to prove that she could do it all too!

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