Review by David Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2015
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LEGO Mindstorms Fix the Factory

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Program robots, solve puzzles with neat but basic LEGO game

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-9
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Pros: Polished, challenging puzzles build critical-thinking skills.

Cons: There's not much to learn about programming or robots.

Bottom Line: While kids will be highly engaged, it leans a bit too much on the puzzle-solving over the robotics, engineering, and coding one would expect in a Mindstorms title.

Teachers can use Fix the Factory to whet the appetite of kids interested in building and programming robots.  The professional package will lure in players. And the easy intro levels will hook kids with the idea that they, too, can program 'bots. After Fix the Factory, creative students could move on to visual programming tools like Scratch or Hopscotch. For puzzle lovers looking to level up,  CodeMonkey is a good next step, as it gets students writing lines of code.

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LEGO MINDSTORMS Fix the Factory is a logic puzzle game based on the popular Lego Mindstorms physical robotics kits. By dragging and dropping simple commands onto the screen, players program a small Mindstorms robot as it navigates a futuristic factory and replaces batteries. Sequences of commands -- forward, turn left and right, pick up and put down, and more -- send the little 'bot on its mission. Challenges such as electric fences, conveyor belts, and rotating platforms challenge players to think through the right string of commands to direct their robot toward its goal. While the game scores players for speed and accuracy, the infinite redos allow players to solve the puzzles in as many steps as necessary.

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Lego's Mindstorms robot-building kits have long been a mainstay in robotics classrooms, so Fix the Factory promises some serious robot programming challenges. Despite a polished package, it actually presents a fairly straightforward puzzle game. Sequencing commands to get the robot to performs tasks provides a solid introduction to linear programming concepts, but the simplified set of commands and challenging puzzle levels doesn't leave much room for exploration or learning of more complex concepts. In the end, Fix the Factory is an amusing game but stops just short of tackling concepts teachers would prefer were addressed.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Featuring the LEGO brand and usual LEGO quality, Fix the Factory will appeal to kids who want to play with robots. The simple interface and professional graphics make this an appealing digital toy.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

While fun to play with, this LEGO puzzle game doesn't take kids very far in understanding programming or robots.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

If players get stuck, they're on their own. At that point, all kids can do is keep trying things or ask someone for help.


Common Sense Reviewer
David Thomas Director of academic technology

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