Makeblock Motionblock is a useful STEM tool for older kids

A few months ago, I reviewed the Neuron Explorer kit from MakeBlock. I really enjoyed getting to use it and we’ve since implemented it in our STEM lab at my school. The folks from MakeBlock sent me their latest kit for review, and I’ve spent the past few weeks building things to see what I thought. Here’s my review of the Makeblock Motionblock.

About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.

One of the key differences in the new Makeblock Motionblock vs the previous one I reviewed is the age targets. While the previous model is aimed at younger kids, the Makeblock Motionblock kit is aimed at 14+ so it’s not meant for an eight-year-old. Unboxing it is an absolute treat.

The care that was taken when designing the product packaging is evident as each piece is carefully organized in the box. On the underside of the box kits (it comes with two), there is a legend to tell you which part is which. My review without this small detail would have been much different, and I’ll explain why later.

Motionblock’s sophisticated mechanical and electronic components are designed to perform a wide range of functions. As the modules are simple to combine and easy to work with, you can build one of the ten cool preset forms, or even reimagine your robot.

After you unbox the Makeblock Motionblock, you’ll need to download the corresponding app. I had my iPad handy, so I downloaded the app from the App Store and went to work. On the first launch, you are treated to a number of options of things to build. My first choice was the Gorilla. Once you choose your creation, the instructions download on demand.

Once you start the process, the app walks you through building each section piece by piece. Some of the creations can be 90+ steps so the legend on the underside of the box is key. As the app guides you along, you can rotate and relay the steps to make sure you are doing it first. As I was building the project, I was left wishing that the complicated LEGO sets my oldest son builds had this level of detail when it came to instructions.

As you get towards the end, you’ll add in the wiring and “brains” of the project. The brain links everything together and as the Bluetooth chip in it. Once you have the project, built, you can spend time in the app controlling it and running through various exercises.

Makeblock Motionblock Wrap Up

Overall, I really enjoyed my time using the kit. The instructions are thorough enough so that you don’t get stuck on minor details. The projects are long enough that you’ll spend plenty of time building more complex projects. For inclusion in a middle and high school STEM lab, I highly recommend the MakeBlock kit.

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