Mindstorms NXT is a toy, but it is an important toy, like a piano or a chemistry set. It’s one of those items that engages an imagination and possibly opens doors to new interests. Since our future is surely to be shared with robots–it’s already started happening, just look at Roomba–those robots will need, at least initially, humans to program and maintain them. Those people, years from now, will likely remember their experiences with Lego Mindstorm NXT.
Out of the Box
The main part of the kit is the NXT robot itself. It’s about the size of an iPod (though a bit thicker) with a a loudspeaker, a monochrome LCD, and navigation keys on the front. This is the controller for the robot–it’s brain, if you will. It has three ports on top for connecting to the servo motors and four ports on the bottom for connecting to four different sensors: Touch, Light, Sound, and Ultrasonic (see detail below).
The set includes Ethernet-like wires for connecting all of these to the NXT, as well as software and a basic USB cable for downloading programs from your computer. Then there are all the Lego parts, hundreds of them, and most are very small. It would be a good idea to get a plastic organizer for the different parts–it would not only make construction and storage easier but also part loss less likely.