Home Robotics LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Essential Gets an A+

LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Essential Gets an A+

by Peggy Reimers
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FINALLY, I got my hands on a LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential. This set just brings a smile to my face. It is so bright and colorful. What first comes to mind upon opening the lid and seeing all the LEGO® bricks? SPIKE Essential is a magnificent mash-up of the previously released WeDo and Story Starter sets. 

About the SPIKE Essential Set

  • Released Date: August 31, 2021
  • Cost: $274.95
  • Building Elements: 449 bricks
  • Includes four minifigures with names and personalities
  • Grade Levels: Grades 1-5 
  • Program: Icon Blocks or Word Blocks based on Scratch
  • Engages students with STEAM concepts while contributing to literacy, math, and social-emotional development
  • Curriculum: 40 lessons in 6 Units
    • Units: Banded into Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, and All Grades
    • Lessons Length: 30–45 minutes or 45–90 minutes

Hardware Included in the SPIKE Essential Set

  • LEGO technic small hub (half the size of the SPIKE Prime Hub)
  • 2 small motors
  • 1 technic 3×3 color light matrix (nine pixels and 10 colors)
  • 1 technic color sensor (exactly like SPIKE Prime)
  • 6 white base plates
  • 2 small wheels
  • Accessories (crab, dog, flowers, snowboards, and seats)
  • Box of 97 replacement elements

Why SPIKE Essential Receives an A+

After organizing my set and assembling several builds, here are my A+ findings for the SPIKE Essential set.

Organization 

There are eight color-coded stickers on the sticker sheet. The first task is to put the stickers on the corners of the two white trays. Then, find the color-coded bags of elements, and pour each bag into its matching section. Each compartment has just enough LEGO® pieces in each section to allow you to easily find the element you are looking for.

Re-Organization and Clean Up

After disassembling a robot, reorganization of your Technic Building Elements is so easy. You just put pieces away according to color. In every set before (SPIKE™ Prime, EV3, and WEDo 2.0), breaking down your model and organizing your pieces was tedious and time-consuming. Not anymore!

Replacement Elements 

LEGO® comes through with a box of 97 replacement elements! My only wish is to include replacements for the four minifigures. Teachers, you’ll need to come up with a strategy to keep Maria, Daniel, Leo, and Sophie from leaving your classroom. 

3×3 Color Light Matrix 

This little gem is just so cool. It’s easy to program with nine pixels, and you get ten colors. 

Sounds Provided

With the LEGO® software, there are way too many sounds to choose from. You just know every student will want to try all the sounds!  When programming with the Icon Blocks, there are three blocks of code to choose from. The choices are Animal Sounds, Sound Effects, and Music Blocks. Each block comes with eight sounds and a random option. 

Learning Content

SPIKE™ Essential offers five curriculum units for students in grades 1–5. Each curriculum unit includes lesson plans and teaching resources for seven, 45-minute lessons. Additionally, each lesson includes 30+ minutes of language arts or math extensions. Therefore, each curriculum unit contains a total of 6–10 hours of educational content.

If you are ready to jump in and start building, I highly recommend the Animal Alarm Lesson. The build was fun and the programming highlights the color sensor and the 3×3 Color Light Matrix.

My One LEGO® Wish

As you can see, there is a lot to love about SPIKE™ Essential, but I do have one wish.

I have to admit when it comes to the language of LEGO® I am a little particular. Why, you ask? Every occupation has its own set of jargon. It is imperative in many jobs that one knows the vernacular. If you are a carpenter, you know the difference between a hacksaw and a coping saw. If you are a plumber, you know the difference between a tee, an elbow, and a coupling. Part names matter!

LEGO® does not have a consistent naming convention for the parts. The names vary from set to set.

For example, here is a quick comparison of some SPIKE Essential and SPIKE Prime.

SPIKE Essential TermsSPIKE Prime Terms
Stackable LEGO® BricksIntegrator Bricks
1x3x3 Connector BeamBiscuits
Rubber Beam with Cross Holes2m Damper
Axle ExtenderCross Axle Extension
Work with the SPIKE Prime and EV3 at TCEA’s Robotics Summer Camp!

If you’re unboxing SPIKE Essential, please drop a comment and leave your own review. Go Bot Go!

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