LEGO EDUCATION WeDo 2.0 CORE SET – THE ULTIMATE REVIEW
BY RoboCAMP TEAM

  • LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 set

LEGO Education recently launched a new version of its WeDo™ robotics set. How different is the new set from what we are used to with WeDo 1.0? Which one is better for the classroom or for homeschooling? Is it time to upgrade? Our team of dedicated educators, robot designers and curriculum developers has worked with the new sets for several weeks now, so we can discuss it all and help you make an informed decision. We have worked with the sets in classrooms, designed several new robot models, performed tests on the new electronic components and used the new software on different devices with different operating systems. By doing so, we have gathered plenty of information, so this article is quite extensive. To help you navigate through it all we prepared a table of contents so you can jump to the section that interests you. We hope you will find this review helpful. Have a nice read.

Table of contents

WHAT IS LEGO WEDO?

LEGO Education WeDo is the result of the collaboration between Mitchel Resnick, head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, and Erik Hansen, head of the Electronics R&D department of The LEGO Group. Previously, their 20-year collaboration resulted in the highly successful LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit for children aged 11+. The LEGO Education WeDo™ Robotics Construction Set, aimed at children aged 7-9, was launched in 2009 and introduced LEGO robotics to younger audience. The set combines the beloved LEGO bricks with one motor, two sensors, and a hub that connects the model to the computer. Simple drag-and-drop visual programming software is then used to bring the model to life. With this kid-friendly approach, the set makes learning fun, inspiring and engaging. Kids learn about complex topics in the fields of physics, engineering, and programming, as well as develop motor and cognitive skills through robot building, all as they have fun with LEGO bricks.

Its simplicity and versatility make WeDo a great set to use in the classroom for teaching robotics and programming and enhancing STEM lessons. Children work in pairs using one WeDo set and one computer or tablet, which improves their collaboration and communication skills.

RoboCAMP educators have a long and successful history of teaching with WeDo and we are certain that there’s hardly a better tool for getting young children excited about technology and programming. Our own lesson plans for WeDo, CityCAMP, StarCAMP and SafariCAMP prove that the possibilities are even greater – you can use WeDo to spark interest in physics, mechanics, astronomy and even biology!

Being very fond of the original set, we’ve been really excited about the new WeDo 2.0 set since the earliest rumors about it surfaced last year. Now, a few weeks after first getting our hands on the new sets, we can finally tell you what we think.

STORAGE BOX AND CONTENTS

Let’s start with the storage. The LEGO Education WeDo™ 2.0 Core set comes in a large, durable, plastic storage box, almost two times bigger than its predecessor’s. The box comes with a semitransparent plastic lid, and is equipped with a convenient sorting tray with 13 different-size compartments for storing small LEGO pieces. Each compartment holds from 4 to 11 types of LEGO pieces, sorted according to size and use. Bigger elements are stored underneath the tray, in the bottom of the box. The element card is conveniently laid out to match the tray compartments. The set also contains a sticker sheet with 13 stickers that can be used to label the compartments, which is really practical and helps with keeping the bricks sorted. It is best to place the stickers on one side of each compartment of the sorting tray, to make them visible when we add the bricks. Inside the box you will also find an information sheet on how to download software for the product, which for us was seriously misleading. Our adventures and misadventures with downloading and running the new LEGO WeDo software will be described in the Software section.

The WeDo 2.0 set contains 280 LEGO pieces which is a huge change, since the previous version only included 150 elements. Therefore, we get almost twice as many bricks for a similar price. In case of WeDo 1.0 you could extend your building capabilities with the separately sold WeDo Resource set containing 325 more LEGO pieces.

The number of pieces in the new set, along with the size of the sorting tray, led to the great increase in the size of the storage box. This can be an obvious disadvantage in some classrooms, as the new sets require much bigger workplaces and more room for storage between classes. However, there is a silver lining to the storage space problem, since the new boxes can be stacked more easily than the WeDo 1.0 boxes.

The space problem is, however, negligible compared to the great improvements the new storage system brings to the building process. After using the sets for a while, we can firmly state that it is now much easier to find pieces, which shortens the building phase of a lesson and greatly reduces the dreadful noise of searching for a LEGO piece (a real blessing if you use the sets in class frequently).

Overall, there’s a significant improvement in comparison to the WeDo 1.0 container, with its impractical four-compartment tray that was usually thrown away, leaving us to store all the LEGO pieces loosely in the main storage box.

LEGO PARTS – GENERAL INFORMATION

LEGO WeDo 2.0 parts list

LEGO WeDo 1.0 parts list

Like in most LEGO sets, when you open the box for the first time, all LEGO pieces are pre-packaged in several plastic bags. The contents of each bag, unfortunately, do not correspond to the way LEGO intended us to store the pieces in the sorting tray, therefore, if you buy several sets at once, prepare yourself for a bit of work to sort them all out. Although, since the sets will have to be sorted more or less every one to two weeks depending on the frequency of use, you may as well get used to it now. And if you think that it’s nothing new since you’re used to working with WeDo 1.0, think again, as this time you have almost twice as many pieces, and you need to put each one of them in the right compartment of the sorting tray.

But let’s focus on the LEGO pieces. The first thing that catches the eye when you open the box is the color palette of the LEGO pieces, significantly different in WeDo 2.0 compared to WeDo 1.0. It is dominated by greens, light blues and yellows, in bright and fresh hues, with a small share of other colors. There are also lots of transparent pieces. Those bright colors sure correspond to the main theme of the curriculum that LEGO designed for this set, which is recycling and ecology. They also definitely appeal to most kids that age. However, we fear that such a limited color palette can inhibit creativity a bit, since it suggests some solutions over others. Adding a couple of red and dark blue pieces, would make the set much more valuable in this regard.

WeDo 2.0 set contains many more tiny pieces when compared to its predecessor, which is puzzling since the kit is designed for the same age group and labeled 7+. One can only assume that today’s 7-year-olds are much more capable of handling small objects than their peers in 2009, when LEGO WeDo 1.0 was launched. The truth is, however, quite different. With a total of 280 LEGO pieces, and a significant share of really small ones, the age limit of the WeDo 2.0 kit is actually set properly. For WeDo 1.0 the age limit was a bit too high, since it worked very well for kids as young as 6 years old. Educators at RoboCAMP used them with very good results for years. There are also some issues regarding the new software that contribute to the higher age limit, but we will discuss them in the Software section.

LEGO PARTS – DETAILED COMPARISON

The differences between LEGO WeDo 1.0 and 2.0 sets are most apparent in the case of LEGO pieces. The electronic components, apart from the new hub as well as the new software, hasn’t actually changed much. Let’s then take a closer look at what’s inside the new set, and, equally important, what isn’t.

WeDo 2.0 plates1. The upper left corner compartment is all about the plates. The Technic plates here, come in more colors and sizes than were available in the WeDo 1.0 set. Apart from that, the first compartment also holds several other interesting pieces worth noticing. There’s the white bracket, ideal for joining pieces in perpendicular planes. A gray frame, aka 4×4 plate with open center, can be useful for reinforcing the structures. A turntable base along with an azure 4×4 round plate create a great and practical turntable for all those crane and carousel models. Thanks to its larger dimensions and a pin hole in the middle of both plate and base, the turntable can now be controlled by motor, and almost as useful as its Technic counterpart. Remember the 2×2 turntable in the WeDo 1.0 set? It’s a different world now!

Slopes WeDo2. Let’s move on to the lower left corner compartment for all its slope goodness. In total, there are more pieces in this category than in the WeDo 1.0 set. However, there are fewer types of slopes and curved slopes to choose from. The set, most importantly, lacks sloped pieces with a width of two studs, which were abundant in the WeDo 1.0 version. Those were very useful for building stable sloped constructions and will be very much missed. There are a couple of types of LEGO pieces worth noting in this compartment. The azure 4×1 double curved slope is very rare and can be used to tame all those cables connecting electronic components to the hub. The 1×2 31° slope is also a new addition to the set, further expanding the possibilities of building sleek, more aerodynamic designs. Interestingly, it is the only sloped piece with a width of two studs, which to us seems a bit strange.

3. The next compartment contains classic bricks. There are more pieces in this category in the LEGO WeDo 2.0 set than its predecessor, but they are generally smaller. However, the lack of 2×6 bricks that we got used to with WeDo 1.0 is compensated for by more beams in the next compartment.
4. The number of Technic bricks in the new set is the same as in WeDo 1.0, but there are more lengths available. In addition, we get two beams and two bent beams, as well as two more tiles with perpendicular beam than before, so yay! It’s a shame, though, that all the pieces in this category are green. It would be great if we could have some color diversity here.

connectors comparisonWeDo axle connectors5. The next small compartment holds a whole new group of LEGO pieces, not available at all in the WeDo 1.0 set. Axle connectors and angle connectors are a great addition to the WeDo set, and open up many new building opportunities. With the previous version of the set, we built our own connectors using 2×2 Round Bricks. There’s no need for that now, and we can design even longer and more durable drive shafts than before.

6. The WeDo 2.0 set finally introduces half bushings. They are stored in the sixth compartment along with whole bushings, pins (two more than in the 1.0 version but still few) and pin-to-axle connectors.
WeDo axles

7. There are many more axles in the new set, which, along with all those axle connectors, really expand the set’s possibilities. We also get some special axles, such as a 4-module axle with end stop, 2-module axle with grooves and a very interesting black 2-module axle with pin. It’s hard to compare it all to the total of six axles that were available in LEGO WeDo 1.0.

decorative WeDo pieces8. The eighth compartment is also on the small side, but its contents are very interesting. It holds all the decorative pieces, such as flowers and other plant parts, transparent 1×1 round bricks in three colors, a tiny lever, and two sizes of round tiles with eye decoration. Eyes are especially interesting since we not only get to choose the size of the eyes for a LEGO creature of our design, but can connect them to whatever LEGO piece we want, which creates nearly endless possibilities. There is no LEGO minifigure in the WeDo 2.0 set. Some kids may miss it but it can also be a good thing. Minifigs did, after all, create a bit of a fuss in the classroom (two kids per set and only one minifig, guys!). They were also unnecessarily suggestive, since kids (as well as adult robot designers), tended to try to scale all their builds to the size of this little LEGO figure.

WeDo 2 tiles9. The next compartment holds four types of round LEGO plates and tiles. There are two classic 2×2 round plates and six round plates with rounded bottoms. But it’s the other two types that are really worth noting. Take a closer look at dark gray 2×2 round tile with hole in the center and white round plate with one knob. Those two pieces can be joined to create a neat little connector piece for connecting LEGO bricks in opposite planes. We can’t wait to use that trick in one of our designs.

WeDo 2 connecting10. Let’s move on to the next group. It holds several types of plates and tiles of a one-stud width. There are many pieces of this type in the set and that’s cool, but the color palette here is really poor. All the plates are white and most of the tiles are gray with just two tiny 1×2 tiles in azure.

WeDo connection types11. The next compartment holds a lot of interesting LEGO pieces. The most valuable of them all are most definitely the 2×2 bricks with one or two ball joints, and bricks with ball socket. These parts are invaluable for creating joints that allow free movement in two planes at the same time, including rotation. Apart from that, we get yellow Technic ball joints with an axle hole, which further expand the possibilities of creating various types of ball joints. In this compartment we will also find very practical pieces that we know from WeDo 1.0 – 1×2 bricks with pin and 1×2 bricks with axle hole. The number of pieces of both those types was reduced by two and now we get four of each. There are also two 1×1 white bricks with stud on one side, which can be used with tiles with eye decoration.

12. The twelfth compartment contains various types of LEGO pieces. There are six transparent wedge belt wheels, which is a lot; however, there are only two tires to go with them. We also get round 2×2 bricks, which we got used to in the previous version of the set. A nice surprise is the introduction of the second type of rubber band – the well-known yellow 33 mm one is now joined by its smaller 25 mm red version, which, along with more belt wheels and small bushels, creates entirely new possibilities for designing gear belts. Interestingly, despite the fact that the new set lacks any minifigures, it contains two minifigure snow-boards. We guess they could be used as skids but we wonder why they really made it into the set in the first place.

13. Now, for the final compartment. GEARS! Lots and lots of different types of gears. There are the classic spur gears with 24- and 8-teeth, and we get as many as four of the latter (which is great since those valuable little pieces seem to always be the first to get lost). In place of crown gears, Lego WeDo 2.0 introduces 20-teeth bevel gears and double bevel gears in 12- and 20-teeth versions for operating on non-parallel axes. The set also contains LEGO’s great transparent gearbox and a worm gear, as well as four (two more than in 1.0) gear racks for more powerful rack-and-pinion mechanisms. Overall the gear selection in WeDo 2.0 is much wider than its predecessor’s. It allows for building more diverse transmissions, but it comes with a cost. It is much harder to correctly mesh up bevel gears in a parallel transmission; therefore, it may be harder for small children to use.

14. Larger and uncategorized pieces are stored in the bottom of the box. In addition to the electronic components, the base contains two 16-stud-long plates, introduced in the 2.0 set in exchange for the 8×16 brick available in WeDo 1.0. There’s a 50 cm long string, without studs on ends, and two chains, with studs. String and chains can be used together with reels to design various pulley or hoist systems. The bottom of the box also includes elements that were sorely lacking in the LEGO WeDo 1.0 set, as there are two types of tires (four offset and two balloon) with matching wheel rims there, which allows us to finally build vehicles.

And finally, the real star of the show – the brick and axle separator. The much-needed piece joins the LEGO WeDo set in its new 2.0 edition. Ironically, without the 8×16 bricks base, separating the blocks is now less of a problem than it was in WeDo 1.0. Still, its presence in the set is much appreciated.

LEGO PARTS – FAREWELLS

The new LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 set is much richer than its predecessor, at least in terms of LEGO parts. However, there are several particular pieces in WeDo 1.0 that will be very much missed. Let’s start with the most important one, the gray Technic cam. This particular, inconspicuous LEGO part was indispensable for all designs using crankshaft mechanisms. And while there are ways of creating crankshafts without this part, the mechanism will never be as simple and neat. Other parts that were often used in WeDo 1.0 are 2×6 bricks, 8×16 base brick and 2×2 slope bricks, all mentioned in the previous paragraphs, and all useful for building durable LEGO structures.

EFFECTS ON ROBOT DESIGNS

WeDo robot designers and constructors should be very pleased with the new set. The possibilities of the 2.0 set are significantly greater even with the same limited amount of electronic pieces. With 280 LEGO parts to choose from, we can build much stronger and bigger models – in WeDo 1.0 there always seemed to be one plate too few. There are also several new possibilities brought by the introduction of new types of pieces to the set. New gears, ball joint connectors, axle connectors, more rubber bands, a new bigger turntable – all of this will make the designing process easier and simply more fun.

NOur talented RoboCAMP robot designers are working hard to provide WeDo 2.0 versions for all our WeDo models. They are now working on our popular SafariCAMP lesson plan. When ready, all the WeDo 2.0 materials will be added to your SafariCAMP lesson plan subscription at no additional cost. As for now, let us introduce Nest in its new 2.0 edition.


ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS

Electronic parts in the LEGO Education WeDo™ 2.0 Core set are generally very similar to what was available in WeDo 1.0. We get four electronic components – one medium motor, a tilt sensor, a motion sensor and a Smart Hub. The set introduces the new connection technology using plugs and ports to connect electronic elements with Smart Hub. The connection technology is, therefore, more similar to LEGO Mindstorms than to WeDo 1.0. It’s hard to assess yet if this technology is better than the system used in the previous version of the set. What we do know already is that with WeDo 2.0 you can plug in only two electronic elements into the Smart Hub at a time. WeDo 1.0 allowed for connecting one sensor and multiple motors to one hub.The cables in 2.0 are wider, which may improve durability. However, it can also become a problem in some designs, as the cables are much stiffer and harder to twist, and can restrain the movement of some robot models.

Smart Hub

WeDo Smart Hub is a brand-new electronic LEGO element, designed specially for the WeDo 2.0 set. It plays the same role in the set as its predecessor, the WeDo USB hub, connecting sensors and motors with the computer and program that control them. The Smart Hub is significantly bigger than the previous version. In fact, it is bigger in every direction! Whereas the previous USB hub was a brick with a 4×5 base and a height of two regular bricks, the new one measures 4×8 studs and has height of three bricks. It has 1×4 Technic bricks (with holes) sticking out in the middle of both sides, which makes the hub even wider. All of this makes the Smart Hub almost four times bigger than its previous version.

The main reason for the increased size of the new Smart Hub is that it has to hold two AA batteries (alkaline or rechargeable), which now power the wireless connection and all other electronic parts attached to the hub. In WeDo 1.0 there was no need for an additional power source as the models were powered via USB from a computer, which they were connected to all the time. The introduction of the Smart Hub adds another task to classroom logistics as you have to keep the batteries charged. The battery case in Smart Hub can be replaced with a rechargeable Add-On Power Pack, but the purchase considerably adds to the cost of the equipment for the classroom, as one power pack costs about half the price of a whole LEGO WeDo 2.0 set. Even with a whole set of power packs, you still need to keep them charged. And you won’t have the option of swapping them when they run out during a lesson, unless you buy even more. Considering all that, we suggest going with much cheaper, good quality rechargeable AA batteries and a good set of chargers. Buy 150% of the amount you need for one lesson – that way you will always have some charged batteries in reserve.

The biggest change, compared to the previous LEGO WeDo USB hub, is the use of wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth 4.0) technology, instead of conventional USB solution with a cable. This brings brand-new possibilities and changes. Together with plenty of wheels provided in the new WeDo set, a wirelessly controlled, battery-powered WeDo model can now be truly mobile. This is a big step forward from the previous WeDo system. However, the Bluetooth technology creates a challenge of connecting all the Smart Hubs to the right devices in the classroom. There’s a possibility of changing the name of each Smart Hub in the Connection Center of the WeDo software. We suggest assigning an individual name to each hub both in the software and physically, using stickers.

The back panel of the WeDo 2.0 Smart Hub contains two ports for the electronic parts supporting the new LEGO Power Functions plug. The top of the hub is covered with studs, has one centrally placed green button, and a light panel next to it. The light panel is used to indicate if the Smart Hub is connected to a computer or tablet. It is also a light source that can be programmed in WeDo software, with 10 colors to choose from. The green button (which LEGO also refers to as a “blue light button”) is used to turn the Smart Hub on and off. Pressing the button on a hub will make it ready to connect to other devices. When the hub is connected to another device, the light lights up blue. To turn the hub off, press and hold the green button for a few seconds. Sadly, the hub’s button isn’t utilized for anything more. The possibility of running the last program with the press of a button would be invaluable, making the WeDo set truly wireless. Currently, despite the Bluetooth technology, you still need to start the program using a tablet or computer. Adding this feature would bring WeDo closer to the more-grown-up Mindstorms EV3 set.

Medium Motor

The new motor is very similar to the one in the 1.0 version of the WeDo set. The main difference is the introduction of four studs on the top, at the expense of one less pin hole on the front. This design allows for easier integration with other LEGO parts. Several tests performed to compare 1.0 and 2.0 motors suggest that there are no major differences in operation. The new motor seems to operate slightly more stably and with a bit less power – the tested WeDo 1.0 motor worked faster despite the fact that it has been heavily used for a couple of years.

Motion Sensor

The WeDo 2.0 motion sensor attached to the Smart Hub can detect objects within a 15 cm range. Like in the previous set, the sensor can be used to measure distance to the object in front of it, or detect motion (which is in fact a change in distance). Its readings are then sent to the computer via Smart Hub and displayed on the computer screen. CInterestingly, in WeDo 2.0 those measurements are interpreted inversely than in the WeDo 1.0 set. With increasing distance, the number values displayed on the screen increase, which suggests that the readings are in fact distance measurements. In LEGO WeDo 1.0 the correlation was inverse – the greater distance, the smaller the number that appeared on the screen. This is a good change since it is now much easier for kids to understand what the measurements mean. However, this change makes it much harder to use both 1.0 and 2.0 versions of the WeDo set in one classroom, which otherwise would be a nice solution for some schools. Working with data that in the two sets is collected differently can be very confusing and very demanding for the teacher to make the class work.

The WeDo 2.0 motion sensor has much better resolution than its predecessor. It can detect a change in distance as small as the size of two studs, which is around 1.5 cm, whereas for the previous version it could be as many as nine studs (over 7 cm). Moreover, with the WeDo 1.0 sensor, the resolution changes with distance, while the new sensor resolution is constant in the range of 25 studs. All of that makes the new 2.0 sensor more dependable and better overall than its predecessor.

Tilt Sensor

The new version of the WeDo tilt sensor brings minor changes with respect to its older version. Its response to the change of its position is slower, which means that the sensor must be tilted strongly to detect the change. The the tilt sensor readings are, once again, interpreted differently by the software. In the WeDo 1.0 version, different measures of tilt were referred to using the numbers 0, 2, 8, 4 and 10 in the software. Now those same positions of the sensor are marked as 0, 3, 5, 7 and 9. It’s hard to say as to why LEGO made the change since there’s no obvious reason for it. Nonetheless, it’s another impediment for those teachers who hope to incorporate two types of sets in a classroom.

WEDO 2.0 SOFTWARE – GENERAL INFORMATION

LEGO WeDo 2.0, unlike its predecessor, doesn’t require the user to buy the software separately. Much like with the recent LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set, the software dedicated for this set is available for free download on the LEGO website, which is great. There are two software versions available: FULL or STARTER. The most obvious difference between the two variants is that the “FULL” software includes the new LEGO curriculum (consisting of 17 projects, which include 1+8 models with building instructions), whereas the “STARTER” software allows for building only the “Get Started” project.

In early statements, LEGO Education said that the curriculum will be available for schools at the price of $289.95. However, as of this writing (March 9, 2016) the curriculum is available for free. This information was posted as an added paragraph in the WeDo 2.0 ReadyGo Classroom Pack product description, stating that this is a limited offer. This information has disappeared. Nonetheless, the FULL software with the curriculum is still available for download. Core Set buyers were not informed about the special offer; however, they also can download the full version without being charged. LEGO’s strategy on this subject is a bit unclear, but for the time being, the customer (and in fact, everyone who has the link) is granted free access to building instructions, which is hardly reason to frown. In the recently added FAQ section, LEGO states that the promotion will last until June 30, 2016. Customers who bought the curriculum during the promotion can be reimbursed for their purchase.

Downloading and installing the WeDo 2.0 software can be bliss or a nightmare, depending on the device and operating system you use. We have a long and successful history of working with the previous LEGO WeDo set, whose programming software was available only for personal computers (Windows XP and newer, iMacs). For more than five years, using a computer with WeDo was the obvious thing to do, so you can imagine our surprise, when we saw that the WeDo 2.0 software version for desktops is, by far, the most faulty of them all. You can see our findings on using LEGO WeDo 2.0 software on different platforms below.

WEDO 2.0 SOFTWARE FOR TABLETS

iOS

There is support for Apple products (iOS 8.0 or later, compatible with iPad 3rd generation or iPad mini and above), so both software versions are available in the Apple App Store and work fine. Find the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 FULL or STARTER application in the Apple App Store and there shouldn’t be any problems with downloading and installing the app on your device.

Android

Support for Android devices is problematic. LEGO states that WeDo software works on devices that run Android 4.4.4 or higher and support Bluetooth Low Energy/Bluetooth 4.0. This, however, is only partially true. WeDo 2.0 users have described problems with numerous devices that met requirements, with the WeDo application refusing to install. The LEGO community started to create a list of devices tested by users and the outcomes of those tests. The list can be accessed here. On February 25, 2016, a member of LEGO’s technical support stated in the thread linked above that tablets and phones with screens smaller than 8” are not supported. This limitation, however, is still not reflected either on LEGO’s FAQ site (or any LEGO website for that matter) or Google Play.

Also, LEGO WeDo is not available for Kindle devices.

WEDO 2.0 SOFTWARE FOR PERSONAL COMPUTERS

Windows 7

The WeDo software version for the Windows 7 is, sadly, a disaster, despite several updates. The first version, “01_00”, had only an installer for the 64-bit architecture systems, and didn’t have a button to exit the application. What’s more, the application would crash if the computer didn’t have a webcam installed, it would crash if the touch pad and mouse were used at the same time, and it would even crash randomly upon start! However, these bugs are nothing compared to the most crucial of them all, which is still not fixed: despite having Bluetooth Low Energy/Bluetooth 4.0 as the only hardware requirement, the software won’t connect to the Smart Hub. Since programming the electronic LEGO bricks is the single most important feature of the set, being unable to do so, causes understandable frustration among customers.

t RoboCAMP, we have tried different approaches to make WeDo 2.0 work. It was certainly the most problematic software we have ever used. Finally, we resorted to calling the distributor. Mr Jakub Piasecki from AKCES Education, LEGO Education distributor for Poland, has shed some light on the problem. Because of different handling of the Bluetooth 4.0 technology on different Windows operating systems, LEGO made the WeDo software for Windows 7 compatible only with one specific Bluetooth 4.0 dongle. This dongle is BlueGiga BLED112. Let’s clear up the confusion. It doesn’t matter if your computer has Bluetooth Low Energy/Bluetooth 4.0, because even if it does, it won’t be used by the application. The BLED112 dongle is required in all cases to make the software connect with the Smart Hub. LEGO at first falsely advertised the WeDo 2.0 as requiring only built-in Bluetooth 4.0, then suggested buying BLED112, and finally admitted that Windows 7 users won’t be able to connect at all without the BLE112 dongle. This information has since been added to the FAQ on LEGO Education’s website, which will hopefully make future customers aware that they may need additional hardware to use the set. LEGO also promises upgrades to the existing software that will fix all bugs. The version of the software we tested was 1.1.0.

How to download and install the software for Windows 7:

  1. Buy and connect BlueGiga BLED112 dongle to your computer.
  2. Following the instructions on an information sheet in the box, go to www.LEGOeducation.com/Download. The link redirects to the education.lego.com download page, which provides installation links for both Mindstorms and WeDo Education software.
  3. Click the WeDo 2.0 button. You will see a page offering two products: FULL or STARTER versions of the software. On the right side of each product panel there are instructions for downloading the software for “All Operating Systems”, with the link redirecting the user to LEGO Education Resources Online. Links on both product panels are the same – it does not matter which one you click.
  4. Click one of the links. You will be redirected to LEGO Education Resources Online.
  5. When asked to “Activate the product using LEGO ID” click “Next”.
  6. Log in to LEGO Education Resources Online or create a new account. After logging in you will be taken to the page boldly called download page. However, it’s not the end yet.
  7. Choose if you want to install the STARTER (here referred to as Core Software) or FULL version of the software (here referred to as Curriculum Pack). Click the appropriate “Continue” button.
  8. In the product description window that appears, click “Go to product page”. You can also note that both product descriptions apply to the same, STARTER version of the software. You can laugh or cry for a while here – luckily, we hope, you already know which to choose. If not – read this.
  9. After that, you will be finally redirected to the product download page, where LEGO brags that it has “automatically detected your operating system and language settings”. However, no matter what the page detects, there is only one version of software for Windows available and it is for Windows 7. I use Windows 8.1 and I, too, was offered a version for Windows 7 (heads up – it doesn’t work). We also didn’t notice any differences when changing language settings – the only version available is marked “global” and in English. Download the software anyway.
  10. Install the software and you’re finally done. Phew!

Windows 8 i 8.1

Despite looking nearly identical, applications for Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems are very different. The Windows 8 version is targeted more at the users of tablets with this system, but if you happen to own a computer with Windows 8 (or 8.1) you can use this application as well and consider yourself lucky. Contrary to the version for Windows 7, this one actually works out of the box.

How to download and install the software for Windows 8 and 8.1:

  1. Go to Windows Store and search for LEGO WeDo 2.0.
  2. Install the app on your device.
  3. In the Bluetooth settings of your computer, pair your LEGO WeDo Smart Hub with your computer. You should now be able to use the software to program your WeDo robots.

Windows 10

Windows 10 users have a problem. Their operating system is not even listed as supported by WeDo 2.0. Despite having access to the Windows Store, the WeDo software that works on 8 and 8.1 is unavailable for 10. What’s more, the installer for the Windows 7 version of the WeDo software won’t even start to work, informing you that “this program does not support the version of Windows your computer is running”. However, we found a temporary solution. It uses the installer for Windows 7 and, therefore also requires the BLED112 Bluetooth dongle. Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the WeDo 2.0 installer for Windows 7 from LEGO Education Resources Online.
  2. Click the downloaded file with the right mouse button and select “Properties”.
  3. Click the “Compatibility” tab.
  4. In the “Compatibility mode” section tick the “Run this program in compatibility mode for” option and select “Windows 7” below.
  5. Click “OK” and install the application.

This way you can enjoy WeDo 2.0 software on your Windows 10 machine, provided you have the BLED112 Bluetooth smart dongle. LEGO has announced that it is working on a software version for Windows 10, but there was no release date mentioned.

18.03.2016: Fun fact! We managed to run the Windows 8 version of the WeDo software successfully on Windows 10 without the Bluetooth dongle! Turns out that if you install the WeDo software on the Windows 8.1 system and then upgrade to Windows 10, the software still works. The only inconvenience is that after the system upgrade, you have to pair your WeDo Smart Hub with Windows every time before use.

It is obviously another hack rather than a solution, but it proves that using WeDo with this version of Windows is possible, even without the BLED112 dongle (you still need Bluetooth 4.0, however). Therefore, enabling W10 users to download the W8 version of the software will at least temporarily solve the problem. Please spread the word! Maybe LEGO will hear us!

Mac OS X

The software for Mac users is available on the LEGO Education website on the same page as the version for Windows 7. The version of the software that is now available is identified as 1.2.7, which suggests that there were more updates to this version of the software than to the one for Windows 7. This may be due to the fact that the Mac version is more buggy, or that LEGO gives it a higher priority. We really hope it’s the latter, since we have not managed to test this version of the software or check if it needs additional hardware. We hope it works as well as the iPad version. For those of you who would like to download the software and test it yourself, here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to www.LEGOeducation.com/Download.
  2. Click the WeDo 2.0 button. You will see a page offering two products: FULL or STARTER versions of the software. On the right side of each product panel there are instructions for downloading the software for “All Operating Systems”, with the link redirecting the user to LEGO Education Resources Online. Links on both product panels are the same – it does not matter which one you click.
  3. Click one of the links. You will be redirected to LEGO Education Resources Online.
  4. When asked to “Activate the product using LEGO ID” click “Next”.
  5. Log in to LEGO Education Resources Online or create a new account. After logging in you will be taken to the page called download page.
  6. Choose if you want to install the STARTER (here referred to as Core Software) or FULL version of the software (here referred to as Curriculum Pack). Click the appropriate “Continue” button.
  7. In the product description window that appears, click “Go to product page”. If you don’t know which version of the software to choose – read here.
  8. After that, you will be finally redirected to the product download page, where you can choose the OS X operating system. Download the appropriate version of the software.
  9. Install the software on your computer.

WEDO 2.0 SOFTWARE – OVERVIEW

Once you have successfully installed the software on your device, we can move on to discussing its features. The new version of the software has its ups and downs and can surely rouse a debate. Let’s start with the icon, which is quite frankly just ugly and much less clear than the simple but great icon of WeDo 1.0, which was much easier to find on the Desktop. Starting up the new software takes significantly longer than before. It takes 12 seconds for the software to be ready to use, and then you still have to maneuver through the so-called Science Lab Lobby to start a new project or edit an existing one. You also always have to close the Project Library tab that is open by default before you can move on to programming. All these actions required to start programming can be confusing for the youngest children. In WeDo 1.0, you were good to go just two seconds after clicking the software’s icon.

Every project made with WeDo 2.0 software is available only through the Science Lab Lobby; you can’t save it, which can be a huge problem. To edit, delete or change name of an existing project you have to press and hold it for a few seconds – this action is used both on tablets and computers, which can be tricky for computer users (it definitely took us some time to figure it out!).

Inside the project, you will find an interface similar to what we know from the WeDo 1.0 version. The program scripts are created by dragging and dropping blocks from the block palette at the bottom of the screen onto the Programming Canvas. The block palette is presented as a vertical roll, which you scroll by dragging it left or right.

In the Toolbar at the top of the page, you will find several important buttons. The Home button can be used to get to the lobby. Project Library button opens a panel with 1+8+8 projects found in the LEGO WeDo 2.0 curriculum (sold separately). Purchasing the curriculum also grants access to the Design Library, with building and programming inspirations. In the Toolbar you will also find a Capture tool icon, for access to the camera and screen capture tool, and the Documentation tool icon, where students can document their work. On the right side of the Toolbar, the Help bar holds a brief description of programming blocks and information on how to connect Smart Hub to the software. The Display button shows and hides images or text displayed by the program. And finally, the Stop button stops all the scripts in the program.

In the right corner of the page, you can access the Sound Recording tool and the Connection Center, which controls the connection between the Smart Hub and your device. To connect the Smart Hub, turn on the hub and select it from the list of available devices (in some cases you will need to pair the devices beforehand). To change the name of the device, click its name on the list and hold it for a few seconds.

WEDO 2.0 SOFTWARE – PROGRAMMING BLOCKS

The drag-and-drop WeDo 2.0 software is much better suited to a touchscreen device than a personal computer. This means that PC users would need to get used to some changes, such as scrolling through the block palette or clicking and holding instead of right-clicking. To enter numbers into the input fields, you have to click the number field and use the number pad that appears on the screen to enter numbers. Yes, even when using a PC, you cannot enter numbers using the keyboard – it’s quite ridiculous on its own. What’s more, however, is that when you want to enter letters into the text field, then you use keyboard. That’s just absurd.

Apart from those quirks, WeDo 2.0 software is really similar to 1.0. We still have the same categories of blocks and they are color-coded identically. We have yellow Flow blocks, which can start, suspend and repeat the script, as well as send messages to other scripts. The only thing that has changed here is the operation of the Wait block – it has been calibrated and now the numbers in the numerical input field of the block reflect actual seconds. WeDo 1.0 used a time unit of 0.1 second. This change is understandable but unfortunate, since in order to do some programs, we will now have to explain fractions to 7-year-olds. At RoboCAMP we prefer the previous time unit, which we refer to as “LEGOseconds” with our students to avoid confusion. Green motor blocks are used to control the motor and, interestingly, the light on the Smart Hub. Red Display blocks are used to display numbers and pictures in the Display field and perform simple arithmetical operations on the numbers displayed in the field. The new feature here is the introduction of three new blocks for controlling the Display field itself. We can now program when the field appears, when it closes and what size it should be.

There are also some changes in the input blocks. As for the Sensor Input blocks, we get three new blocks for controlling the distance sensor – we can now detect an increase, a decrease and any change of distance. We can also still get a numerical value of the distance, which is now interpreted inversely than in WeDo 1.0. There are also changes in the readouts displayed by the tilt sensor. The positions of the sensor are now marked as 0, 3, 5, 7 and 9. Other input blocks, such as text and number input, random input or sound input block, haven’t changed compared to the previous version of the software.

LEGO EDUCATION WEDO 2.0 CURRICULUM

WWith the purchase of a LEGO Education WeDo™ 2.0 Core set, we get access to the STARTER software. It contains the programming software and one free Starter Project available in the Project Library with building and programming instructions for a basic WeDo rover, and additional ideas for using sensors with the model or connecting two rover models together. To get access to more WeDo 2.0 projects prepared by LEGO Education, you have to purchase the Curriculum pack, available for schools for $289.95. However, under a temporary promotion, the full version of the curriculum is available for free to all Core set buyers until June 30, 2016 – read more here.

The Curriculum provides access to 8+8 additional projects. Among those, half contain comprehensive building and programming instructions and other educational materials, and the other half are just lesson ideas with brief descriptions and pictures of some sample mechanisms.

We will prepare a thorough review of the models and lessons provided in LEGO WeDo 2.0 Curriculum Pack soon, so stay tuned.

CONCLUSIONS

Those of you who read the whole review (Congrats!) already know that we have somewhat mixed feelings about the new LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 set. Let’s sum up the pros first. We love that the brick resources are huge compared to the set’s predecessor. We also like several new pieces that were introduced in this set. The building possibilities are much greater and the building process itself is easier and much more pleasant. And although there are some bricks that will be missed from the 1.0 set, our general impression regarding the brick contents of the new set is extremely positive. Another thing we really like is the storage box, especially the sorting tray, which allows for a significant reduction in construction time – much appreciated in the classroom (almost as much as the noise reduction).

As for the electronic parts, our collective opinion is moderately positive. We like the improved sensors but also feel that the changes in interpreting their readouts were unnecessary. It is now nearly impossible to conduct the classes using 1.0 and 2.0 sets simultaneously, which is unfortunate as not every school can afford to upgrade all their WeDo sets at once. The Smart Hub and the introduction of Bluetooth technology is a nice idea but it’s sadly not fully utilized. There is no cable connecting the hub to the computer or tablet, but the robot is still not completely independent – you still need to run the program using another device. We deeply regret that the button on the Smart Hub wasn’t programmed to run the last program. It would have been so great if children could take the programmed model and play with it away from their desks, just like with LEGO Mindstorms. I guess we will have to wait until the third version of the set to realize this dream. And there’s the batteries that you now have to keep charged – we’re just not sure if it’s worth it.

And now for the software. Well, it’s free. And that’s about it in terms of the pros. It is, sadly, the most underdeveloped software we have ever used. We encountered countless problems concerning software versions and availability, the installation process, additional and hidden hardware requirements, connecting to the Smart Hub and general lack of information. To run the software on all the devices we tested, we had to search the farthest corners of the Internet and contact several people at LEGO Education and its regional distributors. It was a really exhausting and frustrating process.

So is it time to upgrade? Well, yes, in a couple of months. Hopefully, by then LEGO will have fixed all the bugs and other problems with the software and provide a reliable source of information and support for users. If it happens, WeDo 2.0 will have a chance to replace its predecessor as the greatest tool for teaching early robotics to kids aged 7-9. However, if you’re not convinced (or you teach mostly 6-year-olds), according to LEGO Education, their WeDo 1.0 set will be available until mid-2017.

If you have questions about the new WeDo 2.0 set or want to share your own thoughts and observations, you’re welcome to add your comments below.

By | 2018-07-09T13:36:03+00:00 March 10, 2016|