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There’s no doubt that LEGO make some of the best STEM Toys available. And what toy says “STEM” more than a programmable robot?! So, it’s not surprising that LEGO have not one, but two popular, flagship programmable robotics sets – LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox and LEGO Mindstorms EV3. But, with these options comes potential confusion – what, exactly, is the difference between these robotics sets from LEGO?
- LEGO Boost vs. Mindstorms – Key Points:
- What are the Differences Between LEGO Boost & Mindstorms?
- How to Decide Between LEGO Mindstorms EV3 and the Boost Creative Toolbox
- Frequently Asked Questions
LEGO Boost vs. Mindstorms – Key Points:
Last update on 2020-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What are the Differences Between LEGO Boost & Mindstorms?
Target Age Group
The most important thing that you need to know about Mindstorms vs. Boost is that LEGO are targeting different age brackets with each set. The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox is designed for younger builders, typically 7 – 10 years old, although the set would be of interest through to 12 years and even beyond. In contrast, LEGO Mindstorms EV3 is designed for tween to teenagers, 10-15 years-old. It’s worth noting that there are also plenty of adults who enjoy using Mindstorms!
Next up, the number of designs included with each set differs. Inside the box, LEGO Boost has 5 robot models to build, including Vernie the Robot, a Guitar, Frankie the Cat, Autobuilder and M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4). Mindstorms EV3 also has 5 robot designs included in the box, however, there are dozens of other high-quality robot designs available online. On the LEGO Education website, there is a comprehensive page that includes LEGO Mindstorms Instruction manuals for builds and also provides program descriptions that show how to make the various builds behave in certain ways. There are enough high-quality PDF instructions there to keep young robotics engineers busy for many hours!
LEGO Boost mainly uses regular bricks and hence is familiar to kids who have grown up playing with any number of LEGO sets. On the other hand, LEGO Mindstorms is based on the more advanced Technic building system, with some parts that younger hands may have trouble manipulating. Indeed, while both sets can be extended with regular LEGO bricks, the Boost Creative Toolbox can be combined with some other specific LEGO kits to build new controllable creations!
LEGO Mindstorms has an EV3 “Intelligent Brick” that has a powerful ARM9 processor. As such, it can do a whole lot of processing onboard, allowing a wide variety of autonomous functionality to be programmed into it. Boost has a much less sophisticated control unit, instead relying on the paired mobile device (eg. iPad) to undertake the processing.
LEGO Boost uses a simple and fun icon-based coding environment on the paired mobile device. Mindstorms can also be programmed using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface in the EV3 Programmer app. However, much more advanced coding is also available via EV3 software on a Mac or PC. In fact, EV3 can be programmed in a wide variety of languages (11+), including RobotC, which is based on the ubiquitous C programming language.
While both LEGO Robotics sets can be controlled by mobile app via Bluetooth, Mindstorms EV3 has many more connectivity options. It includes an infrared remote control, which enables direct control of the robot without a Bluetooth connection.
How to Decide Between LEGO Mindstorms EV3 and the Boost Creative Toolbox
If you’re trying to decide between buying the LEGO Boost vs Mindstorms EV3, the main deciding factors are complexity and sophistication. For younger kids, typically between 7 and 9 years of age, we would normally recommend LEGO Boost. It is a more familiar set, with mainly standard LEGO bricks. Programming it with the Boost app on a tablet device is a fun, colorful and guided experience. The Boost robot models are also designed to appeal to a younger audience.
For kids around 10 years old, the decision could go either way. It depends on their previous experience and level of interest in more sophisticated STEM Toys and sets.
From 11 years of age, and certainly for kids who have shown some level of enthusiasm for STEM, the Mindstorms EV3 can open up endless possibilities. Because EV3 has onboard processing power, and the set is based on the Technic system, much more sophisticated and ‘intelligent’ robots can be constructed. They can also be programmed with a variety of powerful and adaptable languages, and those coding skills are directly relevant to real-world applications in almost any industry! For these reasons, Mindstorms is not just a kids toy, but an entry into the exciting world of robotics as a hobby. This is a big reason why Mindstorms features in our list of Best STEM Toys for the Year. With LEGO Mindstorms EV3, your child might get involved in a robotics club, competitions, and who knows from there?!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is LEGO Boost compatible with Mindstorms?
Both Boost and Mindstorms EV3 are compatible with regular LEGO bricks, so you can extend your creations with all the LEGO pieces you have accumulated from other sets! However, the ‘robotics’ components of Boost, ie. the Move Hub, motor and sensors are not compatible with EV3 or related add-ons.
What age is LEGO Boost for?
The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox is recommended for children aged 7-12 years.
What age is LEGO Mindstorms EV3 for?
LEGO Mindstorms EV3 is recommended for children aged 10-15 years, although many older teenagers and adults also enjoy this set.
Does LEGO Boost require batteries?
Yes, it needs 6 x AAA batteries.