For those of you who are not aware, STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It focuses on who these four areas of study together, but the skills and knowledge that are essential to the students' success. A recent product from Makeblock known as the mBot that is perfect for those students that are involved in STEM education.
Considering that we live in a very technological world where practically everyone has a smartphone, it seems pretty obvious to create learning curriculums that have a hands-on approach to prepare students for a world of even more technology. A lot of STEM education curriculums are set up like a lab, often where a student has to build a machine and program it to do something. So there is often two parts to this lab, building and then programming.
Makeblock, a company that has made a lot of Robot kits as well as interesting laser engravers and XY Plotter Robot kits, has created the mBot. The Robotics kit is able to integrate all STEM fields, which allows kids to create a robot that they can program. As you can see in the illustration, one of the models is this car here, and they are showing its compatibility with LEGO toys.
In fact, the model that you see in the image looks very similar to the two-wheeled, one roller ball car that version 3.0 of the LEGO MINDSTORMS kit has instructions for. If you aren't familiar with the LEGO MINDSTORMS, they are kits of LEGO block based on their Technic series. The Technic series are types of blocks that are not based on traditional LEGO bricks of blocks, and they have no "studs" or the circular bumpy parts on them. In their place are beams, connectors, and axles which create frameworks and MINDSTORMS also includes motors. The MINDSTORMS also includes this block that can be programmed from a computer which can control the motors. With the motors, the creator can make LEGO projects that can move and whatever else they are programmed to do.
Oddly enough, this particular robot on the mBot can be built quicker, and programming it is based on an Arduino open source platform as well as Scratch 2.0 graphical programming tool. The mBlock drag and drop programming tool works with it, and also Arduino IDE.
The mBot has a lot of cool features like wireless connection via Bluetooth or 2.4 Ghz, and it even comes with a wireless remote. You might notice that there are LEGO people near the model, and even though the website says that it is compatible with LEGO parts, I'm guessing that I have to get pretty creative to get that to work. Perhaps that is the challenge, which will create a very intriguing STEM project for several ages.
The Makeblock mBot is available from the company website for about $74.99, and it comes with Bluetooth. There are other less expensive versions available, as well as a lot of Makeblock products of different products.