My daughter is very interested in robotics and I have a question

My 7 year old daughter really wants to build robots. She is always bugging me about building one. Last year I bought her an R2D2, and, although she likes playing with it, it doesn’t seem enough for her. She isn’t shy with computers and loves to play video games. I’m contemplating buying her the Lego Mindstorm 2.0 system and I’m wondering, would this system be too advanced for a 7 year old? I’m a software engineer so I can help her with it, but will someone this age be able to do things with it on their own? I’d love to buy it for her, but the last thing I want is something that costs $200 to just occupy closet space. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Even if it’s too complex for her now, she’ll surely understand it in a year or two.

I wish I had had a Mindstorm set when I “was” a kid. :wink:


If the lego mindstorm is too easy I would suggest maybe a VEX kit.

:slight_smile: Thanks for being so kind and understanding to your daughter and trying to give her this opportunity.

I would personally recommend looking into programs in your community. If a university is near by, they may very well have a strong program and something available yearly for elementary school students.

The lego set is a great idea to try, but I know when I was 6 or 7 my parents just gave me stuff to tinker with. E.g., I had toys break, and instead of just throwing them away, my parents would pick the ones they deemed safe and let me take them apart. It was a load of fun. You may want to consider taking her to the store and showing her that set, or maybe ask a highschool teacher to recommend something they’d do. By showing her the set she might make it a goal to get the set, and there’s always Christmas and birthdays in the future if she shows interest that you can invest in it!

Good luck, and welcome to Chief Delphi…

  • Genia Gabrielov

I don’t know much about the lego mindstorm or anything but our team does have a FIRST Lego League Team.

I would reccomend FIRST Lego League if they have it avaible in your area. FIRST Lego League is mainly for 9-14 year olds but I know our FIRST Lego League team has students even younger than that, so you’d probably want to contact your school system or the schools in your area.

Another product out there you might want to look into is VEX which you could buy at Radio Shack.

Get it for her and let her experiment. When she run into trouble help her out (but don’t build it for her). Is there a FLL team in her school she can join in a couple of years?

she can join fll when she’s about nine and even if her school doesn’t have a team you can start you own, from experience it’s a lot of fun :]

No, unfortunatly no teams at her school. I guess when she gets to be 9, I’ll volinteer and start one.

If you bought the mindstorm system, how old were you and was it complicated to you?

I got mine when I was in 4th grade. I did some simple stuff but I didn’t really have anything to work towards (except my Santa Photo bot- a drivetrain with a disposable camera that could snap pictures(that I never finished)) so after a while I lost interest. I was really suprised at how easy it was to write simple programs with the software in the kit. Also a remote is good for younger kids becuase they don’t have to program it for it to move. Then I got interested in FLL which I have been involved in for 4 years and will be a mentor next year. So while having a kit is good and fun being in FLL is really fun becuase there are tasks to accomplish.

I was the exact same way when I was younger, it sounds pretty simple, and it is. Just keep encourageing and her course will shape itself, Encourage and Challenge. If you think she’s ready for the challenge that a Mindstorms kit may hold go ahead and give it a shot, it depends on the Kid, i never used stuff designed for my age, usually stuff much more complex. I was out of Duplo before i could walk. And you could always try some different stuff like the Lego Bulk bags that are bags with no directions attached (really puts a creative mind to work and is a lot more fun than today’s boxed sets) or Some K’Nex, its all good. Keep in mind that Mindstorms are very expandable and can be used for lots of stuff, once you start you can’t stop, there is always something to be built and programed.

i was 8, i used it for awhile, went off and did some other K’Nex work and came back to it around my 9th Birthday and designed a Candle blower so i wouldn’t have to blow it out, i think i still have a drawing of my idea in a desk somewhere. I don’t think it worked though

I got my first Lego Mindstorms kit 5 years ago. The RCX block code is very easy. Also, there are tutorials that yor daugher can follow to get familiar with the system.

It wasn’t complicated at all actually. LEGO designed this for kids.

I personally started out building simple 2-wheeled tanks for line following.

I’d say go ahead and get the Lego Mindstorms kit. Even if it’s too complicated now, within the next few years it probably won’t be too difficult. The programming interface is basic, there are only 3 motors to work with so you can make some pretty basic things that just drive around and such. This way your daughter will be familiar with the kit and will be prepared to join a Lego team in a few years. She won’t have to worry about learning how to use the program or the kit because she will already know it. Again, I say go for it.

The Mindstorms Kit sounds like a good buy for your daughter especially if she is advanced and uses Lego porducts already. Althought the intricacies of RIS 2.0 will escape her for the moment, there are instructions on building several robots with preprogrammed software that will run on each of the robots you build. If she can follow picture instructions, with your help she should have no problem getting a lot out of this product. You, on the other hand will find the software confining. It is designed for children with no previous programming experience.
If your daughter does not have experience building with Lego products, she might be a little overwhelmed until she can identify the different sizes, shapes and connectors.

I never played with Lego or any of that such when I was younger, but my older brother did. Also, my cousin has the Mindstorm kit now.

However, if you do decide not to buy the Mindstorm, there is always Knex (where you can build huge stuff like ferris wheels and roller coasters - but may also be fairly expensive) or Meccanno (I don’t know the price of Meccanno, but it does take a fair bit of precision).

hope this helps


I’ll agree on everything except number of motors. I sure wish there were three! The basic, off-the-shelf version has only two motors, two touch sensors, and one light sensor. If that isn’t enough, get an expansion pack which may have more of whatever you need more of. LEGO makes several expansion packs.

I have a 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. I also have a mindstorms kit. I don’t think my daughter is ready for it yet. She plays with other basic lego’s and until I see that shes putting things together with more intent and focus I don’t think she’s ready. But you know how kids are, they grow in spurts. So she could surprise me soon enough. Otherwise I think another year or so. Also you might run the risk of spoiling it for her in the future if she doesn’t have success with it now. She might think it’s not fun and dis it later on. Every kid is different, but most of the 7 year olds I know don’t seem like they’re mature enough for the focus required for that kit. Maybe a good thing to do would be to get a lego kit that comes with similar pieces but comes with a manual for building a couple specific things, and see if she can do that by herself. If so you could graduate her slowly. Definitely do not turn her loose alone on that mindstorms kit though. It needs to be explained quite intensely.

They aren’t to advanced but they take a commitment so if you think she will commit to it and will pay attention to it get it.

Just to offer a bit of a contrasting opinion here…I remember when I was little and the Lego mindstorms kits came out. I thought they were possibly the coolest things in the world…and wanted to get one. So I started saving up my pennies…(only would spend (1/4) of the money I had because I was “saving all that other money for college.” I never got to my goal…only had about 40 bucks. Instead, I spent that on the Lego space shuttle. This spurred me and a friend to become obsessed with aircraft…we used to spend days and months drawing up ideas then trying to emulate them in Lego’s. In fact…I swear the JSF team stole my idea for their lift fan (i put a ceiling fan in one of my aircraft so it could hover). I still talk with this friend who lives in Texas, and to this date both of us can think of nothing better than going into an aerospace related career. So the moral of the story here is…you might not have to get her something like the mindstorms kit. It may be cool…but there’s a point I think that it takes the imagination out of things. If you decide that your daughter isn’t ready for the mindstorms kit, you might be surprised on how her ideas develop on her own.

I’d highly recommend buying a Mindstorm kit for your daughter. Its a very easy to understand programing interfeace, when you use the mindstorm program. If she thinks it is “too easy”, you can then move her up to programming in RoboLab. By the time she is 9, you will have agreat FLL programmer.

From experience, FLL is a great program. Even if you don’t have much experience with robotics, you can coach a team. My dad got pulled into it and he has no knowledge of computers or anything of the nature and our team when to states the first year. If you can find a group of kids and you get the support the local school district, go ahead and start up a team, there’s no reason you or your daughter can’t get involved now.

I recall a Lego League team in Mass that was made up entirely of 9 and 10 year olds.

Hey, your daughter might be a genious! I’d say GO for the Mindstorms kits (I loved playing with legos too when I was a kid). If the motors and programming is too much for her… let her start with building structures that she can physically move herself, then add the motors later on.