Review: Cubelets

Cubelets

Robot Basics:

  • What is it?  Modular robotics.  Each cube has its own attribute.  The cube is either a sense, think, or action cube. Put them together, add a battery, and you have a robot.
  • What’s in the Box?  Depending on the kit, several different cubes.
  • How Much?  Prices range.  The six cube kit is $159.95. The larger kit is $519.95
  • Age Range?  Kindergarten and up

How Did We Acquire it?  ILEAD-USA grant. Also, my library bought some based on my work with ILEAD-USA and Robot Test Kitchen

Ideas for Use

I think Cubelets are best used through discovery.  What does this cube do and when I pair it up with this, what happens?  When I introduced Cubelets to my merry band of testers this summer, they came up with some fun robots with just the six cubes.  My library gave me money to buy “new technologies” and I based on that experience I knew I wanted them for work in the STEM room.  The second time I introduced them to my testers, it was to prepare for the library’s renovation celebration. I knew Cubelets would have universal appeal and wanted them to help show what can be done.  Well, some pretty amazing creations came from that experience.


For the library party, I went online to the Mod Robotics website. I created little information cards. I’m calling them Cube Cards. I copied the various cubelets and pasted the name of the cube and its attribute (sense, think, action) as well as a brief description of the cube. So when people were playing around with the cubelets they could discover the uses of the various cubelets.  Robot Test Kitchen member Heather’s daughter T (not yet in Kindergarten) created a prototype of an intruder robot.

T with stuffed animal and her prototype: distance, roller, flashlight and passive cubes.

T with My Little Pony and her prototype: distance, roller, flashlight and passive cubes.

Time Involved

The learning curve is pretty easy. It helps to know that you need a sense and action block plus a battery to make things work.

One-time or Recurring Program

Over and over and over

Extension Activities

the website has ideas for challenges.

Skills You Need

an open mind and the willingness to try things.

Other Tools You Need.

Batteries. The cubelets were going over time for almost four hours when they started to die. We will need to invest in more batteries.

Good Stuff

so much. Kids teaching kids. Parents ate it up. Kids working together.

Frustrations

Batteries. Also, they seemed to want to use as many cubelets as they could get their hands on…making giant contraptions. Small ones like T used above are just as cool. I think I’d give them parameters next time. What can you make with just four or five cubelets?

I contacted the company, hoping they’d have some sort of marketing stuff — posters, Cube cards much like the ones I made.  I was willing to pay a small fee for something if it helped me understand the cubelets better.  There was some miscommunication (on my part by the way), but according to Mod Robotics they

send out Educator gifts AFTER an Educator fills out our survey and includes a picture of themselves or a kid/student with our robots, and signed media release for anyone in the pictures!

It seems like a lot for some free materials* and I chose not to send for it.  It’s too bad.  This is an excellent product, well worth the hefty price tag, in my opinion.  Their marketing model is restrictive.  Maybe they’ll read this and create some Cube Cards and sell them. I’d buy them.

*update 11/6/2014: After an email conversation with someone at Modular Robotics, they’ll provide a “PDF that helps describe how to make a robot and what each Cubelet does”. Request the “Cubelet-How-to-Poster.pdf

Overall Rating:

If you can afford them, buy them. They’re worth it.

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