Normally, I try not to take work home with me. For Meccano’s Meccanoid G15 (RRP$299.99), however, I made an exception – and my kids didn’t mind a bit. After all, I thought, who better than them to test drive this particular bit of kit.
There’s two distinct parts to the G15: construction and operation.
It comes in 621 parts, with tools and building instructions included. The components are sturdy and well made, as I’d expect from Meccano. The plates are made from high-impact polycarbonate and compatible with the classic Meccano construction system.
While interacting is fun – more on that in a moment – I think the creation process is a key part to the understanding of the whole package. Students will see how it goes together, how the four servos move the arms, and the two motors drive the feet. Plus, there’ll be the undoubted sense of achievement, and ownership, too, in construction.
“Meccanoid … high five”
Once completed, the G15 stands about two feet (61 cm) tall and looks kinda groovy. Now to the interactive bit.
Meccanoid responds to more than 30 pre-programmed voice commands (and unlimited user-recorded voice commands). It’ll also walk with you, shake hands, dance, exercise, and even do Kung Fu! There were frustrations. It responded better to my son’s voice (and mine) than my daughter’s. And background noise did seem to impact on its understanding of commands. In a classroom, the numbers using the G15 would need to be limited – the whole class shouting instructions simply won’t work.
The basics are just that and ‘high fiving’ won’t engage for long. Luckily, there are three ways to program Meccanoid – either directly with the robot or through an app (that’s iOS and Android compatible). This really takes it beyond being just a toy and turns it into a teaching tool
The kids enjoyed Meccanoid. There are plenty of ‘how to’ videos to assist along the way. I don’t think there’d be any harm in getting one and giving it a try. They’re available from Harvey Norman.
Categories: Issue 69