The Sketch Kit accessory for Wonder Workshop’s robots uses a simple harness to connect one of six colored dry-erase markers to the robot. By using the programming apps (“Cue” for the Cue robot and “Wonder” or “Blockly” for Dash) and the recently-added “Marker up” and “Marker down” commands, users can steer the robot to leave a marker trail and create designs on a dry-erase play surface.
The easy-to-program interface allows users to create both simple and elaborate designs. Six included project cards suggest ten designs and leave space for two originals. Designs with straight lines are much simpler to code; trial and error is required for smooth curves of the right length and trajectory.
Though the Sketch Kit was easy to program and use, several markers were so wet that when the robot turned (necessarily across its own marker lines) its wheel picked up the ink from the dry-erase surface and left a curved streak behind. We minimized this by bleeding the markers onto paper. (And a quick call to the company had replacement markers on the way.) The dry-erase ink also did not always clean up easily, even from the dry-erase mat, so parents need to be careful to keep markers on sanctioned surfaces. Creative younger programmers who enjoy the effort and reward of making new designs will give new meaning to coloring within the lines.
Emily Crawford ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master’s in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.