Review: Wonder Workshop Dash Sketch Kit

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Dash Robot in #bigmakerbook

In 2016 when we began writing our #bigmakerbook, Aaron and I included the Dash robot for our programming section. This awesome quirky robot is a great robot for beginning to code/program directions. (I also did an extensive robot comparison chart comparing Sphero/Dash/Ozobot.)

In our makerspace project book, Aaron and I used Dash to teach kids how to code an equilateral triangle and even program a dance party with other robot friends. One thing I love about Dash that is different from Sphero is that Dash has a very obvious front and back which helps when tinkering and adjusting code in attempts at driving straight lines and turning tight corners.

Sketch Kit

So I was pretty stoked to try out the new sketch kit from Wonder Workshop. This kit comes with a harness for Dash so you can attach a marker to it. Something pretty ingenious about the harness it that with the movement of Dash’s head, you can place the marker down for drawing, or bring it back up so it can drive to a new spot before laying down tracks. This means our projects from the book, can now be updated for students to attempt drawing different types of triangles, rather than trying to drive Dash on a pre-made track.

The sketch kit contains:

  • 1 marker harness
  • 6 custom dry-erase markers (red, blue, green, orange, purple, black)
  • 6 project cards

The whiteboard mat does not come with the sketch kit, but is offered at a separate price point.

Usability

The programming for this kit is integrated into the existing Blockly app. It’s fairly easy to try out pre-existing drawings, but it’s always more fun to draw your own shapes.

Some of the existing drawings need the code tinkered with to be more precise, but that’s always a good computational tinkering challenge.

If you haven’t used the Blockly app, it is similar to the popular kid-friendly programming platforms Scratch and MakeCode. It uses color palettes to differentiate types of code like Drive, Lights, Control, etc.

Cost

At $40 bucks, the sketch kit is at a decent price for adding to your existing Dash and Dot robots. The whiteboard mat is really cool, but at $100 bucks libraries and schools may not be able to afford this mat alongside the sketch kit. Also, it is quite heavy, so it’s difficult to roll up and store. (One of my students folded it in half the other day and almost completely ruined it!) If you are worried about cost, use an old white board or pick up some showerboard from Home Depot.

If you can order directly from Wonder Workshop, you can get the sketch pack (with whiteboard mat included) for $129.

Bottom Line

The sketch kit is a super cool addition to your Dash and Dot robots. If you and your students like using the launcher and xylophone, you’ll enjoy the sketch pack and seeing math mesh with art right before your eyes!

2018-04-18 19.23.13

Note: I was not paid to write this post, but I did receive the sketch pack from Wonder Workshop for review purposes. 

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I first learned about the Hack Your Notebook project from the National Writing Project during my first year of librarianship. I wanted to find a good way to teach my students about paper circuits and I found a free “Hack your notebook” online from Nexmap and NWP. That was a great way to start learning about paper circuits.  This new sharing from Nexmap promises to be another great resource for educators that want to blend making and writing. Plus, the four books that accompany this Kickstarter are written by some amazing maker educators!

From the Kickstarter:

BOOKS 1 – 4 : Paper Circuitry & LEDs, Pop-up, Microcontrollers, Servos

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(Image above from the Kickstarter)

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