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★★★ Open House ★★★
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Sketch Kit by Wonder Workshop
© 2018 Wonder Workshop

CTR Review
05/08/2018
Details
For ages 6-up
For grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, S, Jr, Sr.
$40, iPad, iPhone, Android, Chrome
Teaches: programming, logic, creativity
Remember Seymour Papert's physical rolling turtle? Some renditions could drag a pen, resulting in a direct link between code and geometric patterns. It also resulted in famous "pen up" and "pen down" commands. That basic idea is back with this specialized snap on accessory for Dash and Cue robots. Sketch Kit attaches underneath either the Cue or the older Dash robots, letting them drag a single white board marker. The holder can only hold one color at a time, although it is easy to snap a new marker into place. The objective is to allow a child to visualize the results from their code. So far, so good, right?

There are some things to note. The components are not cheap, and they can only be used for one thing. Besides the Cue ($200) or Dash ($150) robot, you'll need your phone or tablet, plus the $40 Sketch Kit that contains the eraser, several pens and the special snap-on accessory. You'll also need a horizontal white board surface or very smooth tabletop. Wonder Workshop sells a large white board grid sheet that is perfect for the job -- but it costs $100. It's too bad the kit can't accomodate standard markers or work on sheets of paper.

TESTING RESULTS. We tried the kit in Mediatech. Strengths include the well engineered pen holder, that makes a nice, clear line on a slippery white board surface. But we were disappointed by all of the steps involved in using the Cue system, especially when using the Cue app. There are too many delays. You can't start the app without an account, and our kids had to wait 15 minutes while our robot installed an update. Once in, testers were frustrated by the clunky tutorials with steps that can't be skipped. In addition, the three Cue "personalities" remove the opportunity to simply drive around or make a pattern. Note that we only tested the iOS version. We're hopeful that the Chrome edition might work better.
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