Is Your School Interested in Robotics? Check out our full review of GoPiGo from @dexterind

The GoPiGo is the simple Raspberry pi-based starter robot you have been looking for.

TeacherCast "Best In Class"It is with great pleasure that we are announcing GoPiGo from Dexter Industries as the recipient of the brand new TeacherCast “Best in Class” Award that will be given out to only the best educational products that meet and exceed our new 15 point educational checklist.  Let us begin share with you why GoPiGo has earned this distinction.

What is GoPiGo?

The GoPiGo is the simple Raspberry pi-based starter robot you have been looking for. Like many robots, there are plenty of chances to learn about CS and coding and how systems work. Where Dexter really delivers is the experience of figuring out the directions and assembling the bot.

I value the literacy moment of the students working individually or in pairs to read and comprehend the directions, and for that to work, I need my students to interact with really great documentation and direction. (This is more to say)

Product Features

The GoPiGo is a 2 wheel, 2 motor robot that connects a SERIOUS (12 volt) battery pack to a dedicated motor and servo control board and this connects to the Raspberry Pi computer.

It connects to your device via WIFI, and is programmable through Chromebooks

Links of Interest

What is the benefit of using/buying this product?

If you want your student(s) to assemble a robot, this is a great kit, very clear directions, and quick assembly.

The subscription model supports a healthy cycle of working with the robot and putting it aside for a while and when a new sensor shows up, the robot comes back out for some more development.

Who is this product intended for?

There is a version of this product geared for the independent home-based maker, this is a beginner level experience, assuming literacy and the dexterity to manage small screws. The subscription model of this kit is really great for the home user because it helps spread the engagement out over time. So often build kits don’t live on after the build. This kit keeps sending sensors to increase the complexity of the robot but builds wait time into the experience.

There is a second packaging for educators, with a number of different bundles of robots, sensors, and mission-based curriculum. The company suggests 2 or perhaps 3 students per robot is an ideal ratio.  You may find that groups larger than that size struggle to keep everyone in an active and authentic role.

Price / Financials

The cost for GoBox consumer is on promotion for $16.99 per month for 11 months. The sign-up cost is $161.49.

There is a mission-based curriculum that you can purchase, separately, or packaged with the robot and sensor kits. The robot kits cost around $300 each when packaged with the full array of 9 sensors and the curriculum. The robot comes with DexterOS, including 30 free built-in lessons which makes it really easy to get connected and started programming in Bloxter or Python.

What does the product suggest it can do?

The GoBox is a monthly subscription service that comes with a full robot car, the GoPiGo, and new missions that get delivered to your door monthly. It’s the perfect way to learn how to program, as it walks you through every step of building and programming it to accomplish new missions that teach you more every month.

We believe that the more someone knows about the way technology works, the more effective and successful they will be in any career they choose. However, the way that technology – like engineering and computer science – is taught, caters to those with a specific style of learning, and can often be boring and frustrating for many of us because it requires so much background knowledge.”

What other ways can the product be used?

This kit comes with all you need to do a wide variety of robotics related projects, so it could be a good starting point for an innovation and design class that was going to build some other type of device, but that uses many of the components and systems present in the robot.

How does this product fit into a curriculum?

The GoBox experience includes a 12 mission curriculum, but teachers would need to adapt the lessons for their kids and context. The GoPiGo is a robot construction kit, so reading the documentation, and sharing what they built can be easy points to make connections to core learning skills.

For the best results, consider how the students can demonstrate their understanding of the principle of math, science, or even history, by making the robots do things, act out scenarios.

Does this product cover any standards?

  • Empowered Learner: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
  • Computational Thinker: Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
But Wait! there is (so much) More!

In Dexter Studio there is a repository of free and paid projects (outside of GoBox missions) that are even searchable by state standard. Quality of the product (Durability)

The hardware in this kit sets it apart from other kits of this style. The acrylic body and the screw-together mounting components result in a robot that is sturdy enough to survive more playful learning than many of the build-a-robots I have seen.

What are other products that can do this same type of lesson?

There are other “build a robot car kits,” so many others. The price point on these kits is all over the place. Dexter’s approach allows integration of sensors over time and supports meaningful workshop-style work. This is more of an experience than just the pieces.

What do others say about the product?

Amazon review: My daughter and I assembled this over a bowl of Mac and Cheese on a Saturday afternoon. The entire operation took less than an hour. She is in 2nd grade and once I pulled up the instructions up on my laptop I was largely relegated to glorified piece holder and third hand. It is particularly cool that you can program the GoPiGo in scratch. My personal goal was to give my daughter confidence as she is often in the shadow of her older brother. Mission accomplished with this. He is openly envious of her GoPiGo. Hearing her explain to him the purpose of the encoder wheels…priceless. Having the encoder wheels exposed is brilliant. It makes it easy to understand how the little robot knows how far it has traveled.

Initalstate.com Review http://blog.initialstate.com/review-robot-car-for-raspberry-pi/

“Assembly is easy and gratifying

The pieces are well-made, fit together perfectly and all you need is a screw driver. It probably took me around 45 minutes to have everything put together, including acrylic paper peeling time. After I finished the final product, I was very happy with myself and the robot.

It is both a final product and a stepping stone

Alone, the GoPiGo is an awesome project that lets you make your very own RC car. But the fact that it uses a Raspberry Pi and a special board means that it can become so much more. Examples on their website include an Office Cannon and an Ultrasonic Obstacle Avoider.”

Is this product worth purchasing or using with students?

For schools looking to add a robot class without a dedicated robot specialist, this is a great match. This is also good for the 1 group of kids in an innovation class that wants to learn how robots work or wants to design their own robotic vehicle.The documentation, as well as the lessons tied to specific sensors, make this a good choice for asynchronous instruction.

Final Opinions

This is a well-developed robot kit. It was fun to build and it is quick! (but those 8 aa batteries have to be doing something, right?). So far I have done some web-based driving, but have not programmed it yet. The experience has been very successful and if you are looking for a robot kit, remember they are more than just the sum of their parts, make sure there is the documentation and guidance you and your learners will need.