To start, I had a “mini” nervous pre-Christmas breakdown over the bevvy of electronics/coding options for educational presents – the sneaky learning opportunities we slide under the tree ‘guised as gifts. Holy cow… there are at least 100! I am neither rich or want electronics all over the house. I do want to find something to enhance their interest and engagement in coding and electronics. They love to breadboard, soder circuits, and use blockly coding to create on code.org. I wanted something to help them synthesize some of that interest and give it a direction.
After almost going into debt at Barnes and Noble and out of frustration buying every choice at their STEM Day, many messages to all the companies, and endless Googling and reading, I chose LightUp! Now, to be honest, I did get 50% off the set, which allowed me to upgrade to the Bluetooth Tesla set. We paid $53 for the set. I ordered it through the main site to use the discount.
Click here to go to LightUp!’s main site.
I have decided that there are two ways kids mainly build. 1. Follow the directions exactly or 2. Go “free form” on their own. Now this is not representative of the myriad of other alternatives out there. It is likely you have the Jackson Pollack builder. I will pray for you 😉 … LOL. This is just in my house. One of my sweeties is a 1. My other kids are hardcore 2’s. Hubby is a 2.
So, for the free-builders, I went with the electronics kit without the pre-made libraries. That didn’t have many directions for projects. That allowed them to create their own projects once they tried a few provided. I wanted a project that used coding and electronics… and fit into the budget. Oh, and if the dog eats it I will not need a stiff drink because of the cost. Enter LightUp!
This is how it works. Box comes. No directions. You email the help desk Christmas night – yes I appear to be that crazed mother – and the OWNER emails and helps you in 2 minutes! Live! Tell Taran I said, “Hi!” After my minor tech issues were overcome, I downloaded the app to our iPad… it runs on an iOS… no Android app, yet.
1. Install app for free.
2. Daughter builds following the directions – here is the build for a SOS machine.
3.She takes the iPad and clicks a photo of her work. LightUp! comes back with problem areas and ideas of how to fix it. Not answers! I love that!
LightUp! fosters her ability to problem-solve and free build later. She is like me, though. She needs directions. Once she ran thru the pre-builds, she was done.
Then JJ and LB got their hands on it. They have not put the box down for two days! Honestly – nothing else! They even went into code.org to see how to create a piece of code they wanted. Trial and error. They are trying to make an electronic heat sensor… I think. Another great plus is that it has a USB that plugs into the battery piece to recharge quickly.
In conclusion, if you have truly creative free-build kids that are comfortable creating without much schema or background knowledge, LightUp! is fabulous. Stop and go watch your kids build with Legos. Who do they create? That would be most Lego free-form, free-build kids like two of mine with self-builds all over the house. Umm.. and in the bathroom. Not kidding.
The only CON for me was that now we need the cheaper model (HINT, HINT TARAN) – The Edison – for more pieces and projects to build our knowledge base. Remember that it shows them how to code the pieces. It does not come and click-clack done. The libraries are not pre-made with code and the site does not have 10k sample ideas. This is to foster independence and play and learning. Mistake and learn.
Win – win ’cause the last time I checked I DID NOT have a build manual for life, parenting, homeschooling, marriage outside of sacred scripture. I LOVE that my kids are learning free form design, code, and build … my prayer is that it leads to their understanding further abstract, self-thought… and being proud of their trials and misses!
Let me know what electronics Santa brought your sweet “babies.”
PS. Now I am frantically thinking, what do I get the 1. “needs directions” builder in the house???