Programmable robot makes learning the sciences easy and fun

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An entry in Microsoft’s News Center states that the folks at Microsoft and LEGO Education have put their heads together and come up with a way to encourage kids to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths. Naturally, this involves a LEGO robot controlled by Microsoft software.

LEGO already has its own programmable robot system called MINDSTORMS, which lets people build robots out of LEGO, complete with motors and a CPU, and then program them to perform actions. Microsoft has taken this idea a step further with a connected robot called SentryBot, unveiled at the company’s recent BUILD conference.

SentryBot is basically a wheeled robotic platform with a Surface Pro on it that uses its own sensors and the webcam embedded in the tablet to respond to its environment. It’s particularly good at keeping watch, with subroutines for snapping images of intruders’ faces and Tweeting them within seconds when it detects motion. Kids can program all sorts of new behaviours into the SentryBot using Windows 8.1’s APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) which work directly – and easily – with LEGO’s MINDSTORMS systems to make the SentryBot do things.

By working with LEGO and giving kids something to play with and learn from that’s engaging and fun, Microsoft is hoping to inspire kids to learn more about the sciences, as by 2018 there will be 1.2 million job opportunities in the US alone which will require that sort of knowledge.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.