Lego Sends Kids to the "Moon"

August 10, 2009

2 Min Read
Lego Sends Kids to the "Moon"

In early August, a group of companies announced the “MoonBots” competition, also called the “Google Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorms Challenge,” and loosely based on the $US 30-million Google Lunar X Prize. But unlike participants in the latter competition, the youngsters will compete on Earth rather than try to reach the surface of the Moon. And the kids will use Lego components, including those in the Mindstorms kits, to create exploration robots that will traverse a simulated lunar surface, also created from Lego components.


The WeDo kits at the Lego booth at National Instruments’ “NI Week” got much attention from youngsters who want to control and sense things.

The founding companies and groups, Google, Lego Systems, National Instruments, and Wired’s GeekDad aim to stimulate youngsters to learn about robotics and better understand how to work in small teams. According to William Pomerantz, senior director for space prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation, the founders want students and their parents to understand they can tackle difficult engineering problems and generate important new ideas regardless of their age or background—and they can have fun at the same time. “This contest is quite accessible even for young children, but still demands creativity, intelligence, and hard work. It’s a perfect starting point for the next generation of rocket scientists.”

Once registration for the contest opens, teams will submit designs that show how they will build, program, and operate their robots using Lego Mindstorms robotic kits. Teams worldwide can enter the competition, which requires no entry fee. Judges will select teams to move into a final competition and those teams will receive free Lego components with which to build their robots.

As of August 10, 2009, Lego has not set a start date, but you can visit the Moonbots Web site to read the competition announcement and sign up to receive an email notice when the competition starts. In the meantime, you can visit the Lego Education Web site at and learn a bit more about what Lego offers budding robotic enthusiasts and future engineers.

During the recent “NI Week” in Austin, Texas, the Lego booth drew the biggest crowds of adults and kids alike. Lego also did a brisk business selling its Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kits, but mainly to adults. This kit costs about $US 280, so you might choose to start with the less costly Lego Education WeDo Robotics Construction Set ($US 130).


Lego showed off many interesting projects that parents and kids can build with the Mindstorms kits.

For more information on the Google Lunar X Prize, a prize for the first group to land something on the Moon, visit –Jon Titus

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