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Grove Inventor Kit + BBC micro:bit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 58 / 60
  • RoadTest: Grove Inventor Kit + BBC micro:bit
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Raspberry Pi; Sparkles; Micro Bot; Kano coding kits
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: None with the actual hard ware or software. However; more on line activities are needed to challenge students who finish the challenges in the booklet.

  • Detailed Review:

    I am writing this review as a teacher of D&T in the UK and how the Grove Inventor Kit +BBC micro bit could be used in schools.

     

    The box the kit comes in is attractive and the colours used are not gender biased. Left the box out on my table and had several students asking what is in the colourful box.  The shape of the box means it is easy to stack on shelves or in larger storage boxes. However, the main problem with the box is that it does not have different compartments for the different electronic pieces, this means in a class of 30 students bits could go missing and the teacher not know. Also the box does not always close back up when the pieces are returned to the box.

     

    BoxBox not closing

     

    There are many kits on the market, but after testing this one I believe it to be one of the best. The shield is easy to use and the simple graphic shows where the microbit plugs in. One of the kits  best features is that the parts are not soldered together, it is a simply plug and play. Also the plug and sockets are idiot proof and will only fit in one way. This means classes of students can quickly make and test their programmes and the kit can be used with several different classes in the same week.Plug and play

    Grove Shield

     

    Plugs

    This is a big plus when working with children who want to see the results of their experiments as soon as possible. When a kit has to be soldered more time can be spent soldering and de-soldering the kit, than actually programming. Alternative kits come with crocodile clips which come apart very easily and quickly, making the process very frustating. One issue I; my son and grandson had when working with the red LED was that both legs have been cut to the same length; therefore it was difficult to tell which was the postive and which was the negative leg. Other than that,every other component is easy to use. The motion detector was a hit with my son and grandson; as was the LED strip. When using the LED strip the Neopixel package must be added.

     

    Which leg is positive?Easy to use software

     

    The booklet that comes with a kit is easy to follow and students can work at their own pace. The graphics on the front of the booklet match the box and is inviting to young children; my grandson is 10 and didn't feel the images were childish. The instructions in the booklet are easy to follow; both my son (who has special educational needs) and my grandson were able to follow the instructions on their own. The images showing which components plug in to the shield are colourful and number coded to match the part list. The language used is student friendly and not too technical.  There are several sites that enable you to code and I would suggets that in the front of the booklet the recommended site is highlighted. We found that the only site that would allow us to add the grove package was https://makecode.microbit.org/; the grove package must be added every time the software is is opened; which is not always easy to remember.Easy to follow graphicsEasy to follow instructions

    Front of the book cover

     

    Whilst the booklet is easy to follow it is also the kits biggest area that is in need of development. Because it is so easy to follow a student could go through the entire booklet and not really understand programming. There needs to be more methods (e.g. on line) of testing students understanding of programming and more challenging tasks for those that do work through the booklet.

     

    I would buy this kit for my Key Stage 3 students (age 11 to 13), but I think Key Stage 4 students (age 14 to 16) would become bored with it very quickly.


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