LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 is developed to engage and motivate elementary students’ interest in learning science- and engineering-related subjects. This is done through the use of motorized LEGO® models and simple programming.—- Quoted from “LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Introduction” document
WeDo 2.0 supports a hands-on, “minds on” learning solution that gives students the confidence to ask questions and the tools to find the answers and to solve real-life problems.
When our instructors are developing WeDo 2.0 courses, we evaluate both its strength and weaknesses and the following only represents our own opinion.
The mechanical models of LEGO WeDo 2.0 cover some typical mechanical structures, such as gears, bevel gears, rack, worm gears, crankshaft, pulley , belt drive, etc. For the 16 tutorial projects, all of those above simple mechanics have been covered and can be built step by step. Meanwhile, based on those sample models, students can make freestyle designs to create other mechanical structures.
Although LEGO mentions that WeDo 2.0 is targeted to primary 3-5 students. In terms of those mechanical structures, even secondary schoolers could benefit a lot on how to work on those gears, axis, rim, rack, worm gear to design exquisite mechanical structure. In my personal view, I really like the overall design of mechanical models. I think that is also the advantages of LEGO group.
Combination of Science and Engineering
For each tutorial project, the theme ranges from environmental protection, plants or animals, disaster monitoring to engineering analysis etc. It emphasizes not only the mechanical models but also the related scientific technology and social topics. It makes the LEGO WeDo 2.0 courses a syntheses of STEM – the science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Only Two Ports on Smarthub
The core set of WeDo 2.0 contains one motor and two sensors – one motion sensor and one tilt sensor. When the motor is connected to Smarthub, there is only one port left for the two sensors. That means, if you model needs to utilize motor to drive, you could only choose to connect one sensor – either motion sensor or tilt sensor, which limits the functionality of the model.
Of course, this problem can be solved by adding another Smarthub to your model. As Smarthub is big and a bit heavy compared to other LEGO blocks, your model should also become bigger to accommodate an extra Smarthub. Maybe one motor is not powerful enough to drive a heavier model, so you need to add a second motor. Anyway, I feel that WeDo 2.0 could be better if the Smarthub contains at least three ports, instead of the existing two ports.
If you want your model to have more functionality, two Smarthub and two motors are really necessary. Think about LEGO Mindstorms EV3, its core set contains two motors which can turn at different speed to steer the model with curved or tank movement.
Low Precision of the Sensors
We test both motion sensor and tilt sensor and realize that they are not so precise. For example, the tilt sensor can detect tilting status of up, down, left, right or shaking, but you have to tilt it to a bigger angle to recognize the tilting status. Minor tilting angles like change of 5 degrees, 10 degrees can not be detected. and till now, I could not invoke its shaking status, yet.
For motion sensor, it can detect the movement of objects within 10 centimeters. It can detect the moving palm in front of it, but will miss some obstacles sometimes.
Limited Programming Capability
Maybe LEGO is targeting this educational set for the primary students, there are very limited programming blocks as choices. With those limited programming functionalities, you can not use conditional judgement, get or set variable, customize your own background image or music, or realize more complicated parallel execution of the code. There are some workaround to realize the above functions and I will introduce them in another post, but generally, the programming blocks are designed for coding starters, not for coding veteran.
Luckily, Scratch 3.0 supports the connection to Smarthub. After connecting WeDo 2.0 model to Scratch 3.0, its programming capability is enhanced greatly by Scratch 3.0. You could use the embedded blocks of Scratch 3.0 to add conditional judgement, create and use variable, customize music and realize better control of your LEGO model. You could see that the same functionality in the above image can be realized in Scratch 3.0 in the below image.
When using Scratch 3.0, please note that the measurement units might be different from that in LEGO programming block. For example, “set motor power to 40” in Scratch is corresponding to “Set motor power to 4” block in LEGO Programming Block. Other differences also exist in distance and light color.
Generally, in my opinion, WeDo 2.0 is perfect for children to learn mechanical structure and scientific concepts and how to combine the mechanical structure and simple programming to make the model move. If you want to have better control of your LEGO “robot”, definitely you should choose a more advanced model like LEGO Mindstorms EV3.
Finally again, enjoy your coding and robot and have fun!
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