Book Review: LEGO Gadgets!

LEGO Gadgets
Published by Klutz
$24.99 USD, 78 pages, not including construction pages
58 LEGO elements.

There have been a few LEGO Klutz books that have been published, including LEGO Chain Reactions, and LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions. These books are made and written for kids (and sold through Scholastic Books), but can also be useful for adults. The Klutz books address one thing that LEGO doesn’t in their building and sets : how to make motion.

The Technic sets that LEGO produces all have some kind of moving function, but there is no explanation there in why things work – you duly follow instructions and you end up with a crane that can pick up a container. Or you make a car with that can steer, or any one of a variety of things. This is good in one way: demonstrating construction and physical principles. However, there is no effort to make clear how something works.

Enter LEGO Gadgets. This book is a LEGO set in disguise, having 58 LEGO parts that are used in the book. The book is spiral bound in a heavy cover, with a box for the LEGO parts. All the elements needed for the book are included, so it’s easy to start off reading and building. Inside the book, the back has die-cut pages to add some graphics to your models. You’ll need some tape to put these together, but that’s the only extra item that you’ll need, which I like! 

Thee are a total of 11 models to build, including three vehicles, three spinner models, two animation-based models, and three other unique models. For the AFOLs, one of the two gadget designers is Yoshihito Isogawa, who is an expert on Technic and MINDSTORMS building. The models themselves have differing degrees of difficulty, from a pretty basic claw to the Gravity Drop Cruiser. Instructions are as easy to read as LEGO instructions, although Klutz uses text to help with building steps. 

What’s really nice about this book is that it takes the time to explain a gadget and mention real-world examples in its pages. There are also follow-up activities with each gadget, so builders can get a better understanding of the gadget’s workings. There are also other activities that are in the book that use the parts that let builders be creative. But the most important thing is that this books teaches simple machines through experience – for a builder, it adds motion building to their skills.

 

 

The back cover, showing some of the builds inside.

Of the gadgets in the book, I really love the zoetrope (Micro Movie Maker). Using only 15 parts and one paper pattern, you can make a small zoetrope that cycles a small animation. It’s a simple build with a great payoff. It’s also a great leap into making other related projects – how could a LEGO-based set of frames and animation be added?

The book calls this The Mix Master 3000.

There’s three things that I would want to add to this book. There’s a place to put the parts, but I would really like a plastic tray that slides out from the box. Also, a zip-loc bag or velcro compartment in the cover for the paper parts would be nice. Finally, I would make template pages for all the paper parts in the book as pages.The book is designed to be used once presently. With the templates, the book can be used multiple times.

The Robo-Boxer

Outside of those relatively minor quibbles, the book is a good start for both kids and adults into learning to build things that move. I would recommend LEGO Gadgets to any builder starting out with Technic building or MINDSTORMS building.

You can buy LEGO Gadgets here:
https://shop.scholastic.com/parent-ecommerce/product-detail-page.html?isbn=9781338219630

or on Amazon at the below link:

 

 

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