Any parent can confidently say the best way for a child to learn is through play. It’s immediately more satisfying than learning through simply reading, plus practical implementation tends to mean it sticks in one’s brain more effectively, too.
That’s why Makeblock Neuron is a great platform for STEM education. The programmable electronic building blocks contain over 30 different kinds, each with different functions, allowing creators to build a variety of different gadgets. Combined with intuitive Flow-Based Programming, it’ll teach valuable concepts along the way.
In layman’s terms, it’s effectively fancy LEGO, but really, really cool LEGO. You can build a gadget before choosing to program it via the Neuron App, or simply enjoy how it looks. Refreshingly, its software also ties into advanced features, such as IoT and Microsoft Cognitive Services. Consistently flexible in its approach, it’ll even work with the mechanical parts of Makeblock and LEGO bricks via the Neuron board.
Available through a Kickstarter project, each Makeblock Neuron kit comes with several idea cards to provide you with some inspiration, along with instructions on how to achieve your results. Some suggestions involve things like making a dress with lighting effects, a plant watering system or an IoT controlled car. With blocks including a wireless receiver, joystick, voice recognition, temperature sensor and a camera, there’s a lot of potential here.
We talked to Jasen Wang, Makeblock’s founder, to find out more.
“We are striving to help anyone to turn their ideas into reality,” Wang says, discussing the inspiration. “As technology becomes increasingly more advanced, ‘maker’ & STEM education will also become essential. We believe in the power of creation and innovation.”
Neuron is a platform designed for people of all ages, although it’s likely that those still in education will benefit the most.
“We believe anyone can make anything and everything, so we don’t limit Neuron to a specific group of users; we think people of all ages will enjoy the Neuron experience — not just children,” he says. When it comes to the idea cards, they’re portable and shareable to ensure they’ll work great for anyone interested in interacting with Makeblock Neuron. As an example of how they’re just as great for adults as kids, focus groups have solely used adults to test the project, and collate feedback.
There’s been plenty of examples of Makeblock’s other products being used in schools, however. Currently featuring in over 20,000 schools and educational organizations around the world, Makeblock has benefited from great support from local government in China. Some schools in France have also applied the products to their K-12 education systems, while educational experts in Germany Spain, and Italy have also been drafting robotics education curriculums involving Makeblock.
While Neuron already provides a substantial amount of different kinds of blocks, the firm doesn’t plan to stop there. Wang says the firm hopes to expand the block selections, so that users can “experience our programmable, electronic building blocks platform in a more integrated way.” Retail reach is also being expanded soon with deeper partnerships with Barnes & Noble, as well as SoftBank.
For now, Kickstarter is the best way to purchase a Makeblock Neuron kit. A number of different packages are available with the simplest, the Light Wizard Kit, starting at $39, with the All-In-One Kit costing $399. The campaign ends April 20 meaning there’s plenty of time to determine what kit works best for your needs. Whichever you choose, fun looks like it’s going to be easy to find.