Lego Mindstorms is a tile-based programming solution. So it just teaches conceptual programming, like Kodu, LightBot, Project Spark, and Scratch Jr (those are other examples of tile-based coding). But it doesn't teach professional programming. That makes sense for 1st and 2nd graders (6 and 7 year olds)... to not learn the real stuff. But grade 3 and up should learn professional programming via Small Basic!
This extension also significantly enhances the Lego Mindstorms experience, you can simply do a whole lot more, from power, speed, traction/control, computer sounds, implementing your software games to interact with the robots, etc. In fact, there are a few similar products that let you program Lego Mindstorms robots with actual code, but almost all of them cost money, and all of them are inferior to this solution! This one is better in every way... including being free!
There are so many improvements, that we wrote all 24 of them down here:
Small Basic typically starts at age 8. It teaches actual text-based programming to kids: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/smallbasic/2012/10/25/small-basic-elementary-middle-student-testimonials/
If your students are too young (7 or younger), but you see any kids crush it (where they're obviously ready for something beyond the tile-based programming), then this is a good way to give them a challenge. You can also recommend it to parents/kids if they have Lego Mindstorms at home as well (so they can accelerate their learning).
Also, if you teach Lego Mindstorms EV3, you should join us in our exclusive network for teachers to engage with the Microsoft employees who are making the CS tools (like Small Basic, Kodu, Touch Develop) and running the CS programs (Imagine Cup, TEALS, DigiGirlz, etc.). Just fill out this form to join us:
Small and Basically yours,
- Ninja Ed