A Comprehensive Comparison: LEGO® SPIKE™ Prime vs. MINDSTORMS® for Robotics Education (2023)
What is the difference between SPIKE Prime and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® ?
When considering the ideal robotics kit for your child's educational journey, the decision between SPIKE™ Prime and EV3 LEGO® MINDSTORMS® is a pivotal one. In this comparison, we will meticulously dissect the distinctions between these two esteemed LEGO Education robotics kits to ensure you make an informed choice. Additionally, we'll delve into their relevance within the context of FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Challenge, a prestigious robotics competition for young innovators.
A Farewell to the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Era
It is essential to begin by acknowledging that the venerable LEGO® MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core Set officially retired on June 31, 2021, after an illustrious eight-year tenure. According to the official LEGO® MINDSTORMS® retirement announcement, this marks a significant shift in the LEGO Robotics landscape, with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set poised to assume the mantle.
Evolution of HardwareOne of the most conspicuous disparities lies in their physical design. LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set, renowned for its unique yet somewhat peculiar shape, gives way to the sleek and rectangular form of LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set. This transition not only streamlines aesthetics but also enhances overall ease of assembly with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set components.
Photo source: LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime App
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set relies on a standalone gyro sensor, which, albeit functional, encounters issues of drift and lag. In stark contrast, LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set boasts a built-in gyro sensor, renowned for its reliability with minimal drift and lag. Moreover, LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set liberates an extra port for creative exploration.
Regarding touch sensors, LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set's sensor not only emulates LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set' touch functionality but also doubles as a force sensor, capable of measuring forces up to 10 Newtons. This multifaceted capability signifies a notable improvement, adding versatility to the kit.
Photo source: RoboCamp
Both kits offer distinctive programming interfaces. LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set employed a diagram-based coding interface, whereas LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set embraces a Scratch-like block coding system alongside Python integration, making it a versatile choice for imparting text-based programming languages to children.
Photo source: Club SciKidz Dallas
Photo Source: LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime App
LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set simplifies the charging and downloading process by incorporating a 2-in-1 cable, eliminating the need for separate cables. Furthermore, managing wires becomes more straightforward, courtesy of non-detachable and thinner cables for motor and sensor connections.
Photo source: philohome
LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set introduces a noteworthy improvement with six universal ports capable of serving as either sensors or motors. The flexibility to connect sensors or motors on either side of the LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Hub enhances user convenience.
SD Card Port
Photo Source: RoboCamp
In the past, the EV3 system had an SD card port which allowed for storage of particularly extensive programs. While SPIKE Prime does not incorporate an SD card port in the body, the software addresses this concern by issuing alerts when the size limit of a code is reached. This way, codes downloaded are guaranteed to work according to what is seen on the application.
Photo Source: raising robots
The EV3 system accepted both a proprietary rechargeable battery or six AA batteries. LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set operates only with an upgraded and included rechargeable battery to improve reliability. It can be charged with the included micro USB cable. Conversely, LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set necessitates the use of a specific Rechargeable Battery included with the kit. This battery charges via a micro USB cable included in the set. However, this arrangement restricts the possibility of charging extra batteries simultaneously without owning another hub.
Resource Availability and Software Updates
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set benefits from an extensive array of resources, thanks to its longstanding presence in the LEGO Robotics realm. While LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set is a relatively new entrant, the building and coding are based on similar principles as its predecessor, meaning much of the resources that work with EV3 will work with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that newer, more promising resources for LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set continue to emerge consistently.
Bugs and Updates
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set has grappled with its share of software bugs over the years, with many of them addressed through updates. LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set,solves this by having regular, virtually seamless software updates done automatically through the application.
Brick vs. HubLEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set's brick offered a more extensive range of control options through menu navigation and settings customization. In contrast, LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set moves much of the customization to the application while adopting a simpler hardware interface for a more streamlined user experience.
The Connection to FIRST LEGO League (FLL)
According to the official FIRST LEGO League (FLL) website, this prestigious competition is a platform for young innovators worldwide to engage in robotics challenges and problem-solving. It provides an opportunity for students to apply their robotics skills and creative thinking in real-world scenarios, aligning with the educational goals of both LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set.
Now, let us explore how these kits align with the captivating world of FIRST LEGO League (FLL). LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set's user-friendly building process, smooth driving experience, and modular design render it an excellent choice for young FLL participants. The inclusion of larger O-frame pieces simplifies building, allowing children to create more proficient robots in less time. Although LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set's color sensors may not deliver the smoothest line-following experience, the trade-off for ease of use is justified.
LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set is particularly well-suited for remote control enthusiasts, featuring extension modules that support various controllers. LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set, while a robust option, may be better suited for those who relish intricate mechanical structures.
In case you are wondering what is the difference between LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set and Essentials, please refer to this blog post.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of Duck Learning.