Lego is a household name when it comes to children’s toys. It wouldn’t be hailed as the largest toy company in the world for nothing. It started out by manufacturing plastic bricks that could be stacked to build a figure, and later ventured into developing educational materials and tools that could be used in progressive learning.
One example is Lego Mindstorms, a hardware and software kit it developed in 1998 to allow kids to create and design their own robots. Since then, it has continued to launch upgraded iterations of the series. Each Lego kit contains sensors, lights, motor, battery, and bricks to create a mechanical system which is programmed and controlled using an official companion app.
Here are some of the cool inventions by children using Lego robotics programming:
1. Shubham Banerjee - Braigo
In 2014, twelve-year-old Shubham wanted to come up with an engineering project for a science fair. While brainstorming, he stumbled upon the idea of braille printers and how inaccessible it was to visually impaired individuals due to its expensive costs.
He made a prototype of his concept using Lego’s Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit, and because of his invention, he became one of the youngest to receive Venture Capital (VC) funding after Intel took an interest in his invention.
Shubam later co-founded Braigo Labs to make further developments on the printer and to provide open-source documentation for those who want to try making their own version of Braigo using the Mindstorms kit.
Currently, Shubham is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Engineering and Business at UC Berkeley.
2. Sanjay and Arvind Seshan - The Holiday Plott3r
In 2016, teenage brothers, Sanjay and Arvind Seshan built the Holiday Plott3r, a machine they designed to write out Christmas cards. It was capable of printing multiple designs by using two markers to create the images dot by dot – essentially like a dot-matrix printer.
The brothers established websites to learn programming using Mindstorms and another Lego platform SPIKE Prime. Sanjay has since then been a Lego League participant, coach, judge and referee and has won numerous STEM and robotics awards under his name. Like his big brother, Arvind has made a name for himself by winning awards in Lego Robotics and being the youngest recipient of the Coach award at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival.
3. David Aguilar - Hand Solo
David Aguilar was fortunate enough to have Legos to play with during his childhood. But unlike most kids, he has a rare disorder called Poland Syndrome, a disease that can cause severe abnormalities in the shoulder, arm or hand. Although he was born missing an arm, it didn’t stop David from inventing something that could eventually help children with the same condition.
In his teens, David set up a Youtube channel and called himself “Hand Solo”, a pun based on the famous Star Wars character. This is where he uploaded the updates on his fully-functioning Lego prosthetic invention. The latest version was created using the MK5 which is activated by muscles operating a motorised pulley.
In 2017, David received a Guinness World Record for creating the first fully functional Lego prosthetic arm.
David has since taken up bioengineering at the International University of Catalonia, Moreover, he has written a book and taken part in innovation conferences by NASA.
4. Leon Overweel - Lumia Rig
The rise of camera phones prompted fifteen-year-old Leo Overwheel to create the Lumia Rig in 2013 using nothing but the Lego Mindstorms Nxt kit. The Lumia Rig i’s a robot meant to control the panning and tilting of the Lumia 928 Windows Phone. The remote control is connected via Bluetooth to command it to rotate the phone exactly around where the lens is located.
Leon has other inventions which he uploads on his Youtube channel such as PriNxt and Skype Car – all made using Lego Mindstorms. He studied computer science at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Aside from robotics and programming, he’s also into photography and video editing.
5. Astonishing Studios - Food Vending Machine
For Marcel, founder of Astonishing Studios, life changed after seeing the video of M&M’s & Skittles LEGO Candy Machine. At the age of 16, he began making his own machines which he often published on his YouTube Channel. Today, Marcel’s channel is the most popular Lego food channel on the platform.
One of his most famous creations is the Cereal Vending Machine made of Lego Mindstorms kit. It dispenses milk and cereal when the light sensor detects a coin being inserted.
Some of the other vending machine inventions by Marcel include the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Maker, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Vending Machine, and the 3-in-1 Soda Fountain.
Lego and STEM Education for Children
STEM Education breaks away from the traditional methods of teaching and focuses on developing essential skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking and allows the students to experience actual application of what they have learntlearned. Lego robotics programming crystallises the essence of STEM education by providing a platform for children to explore these technology concepts to create something of their own. Given the achievements of the children mentioned above, it’s evident how Lego and STEM education play a big role in influencing a child’s interest in science and technology.
STEM Genius believes that nurturing kids with STEM can increase their chances to succeed in their future careers just like these teen inventors.
Contact us to start your child’s STEM journey today.