Which Programming Software for FIRST LEGO League?

Aug 18, 2021

Like any programming language and language family, there are many options for how to program the robots. This post is an attempt sorting out the options for FIRST LEGO League and for the current LEGO robotics set in general. 

Let's revisit the different robot sets that are being used for each League: 

We skip the Tech Challenge and Robotics Competition when looking at which programming language to use. They are both pretty much their own categories in regard to both the robotics sets (TETRIX or REV FIRST) and the languages that are available for programming. 

For the FLL, here the main options:

With that, it seems it is safe for all FLL to use Scratch or the Scratch-like interfaces. We will be using the Scratch-version of the EV3 software for FLL Explore for now.

Native WeDo 2.0 Software

The standard WeDo 2.0 set and software is geared towards elementary school children. With that, it provides limited functionality. It is available from the Lego Website https://education.lego.com/en-us/downloads/wedo-2/software  

WeDo 2.0 via Scratch

Lego WeDo 2.0 can be programmed via MIT's scratch software. More information here: https://scratch.mit.edu/wedo The interface would look similar to the following: 

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Home Edition (Retired)

The original EV3 software is officially retired, but still very popular and still available on the LEGO website for Windows and MacOs, but seemed to be removed from the Apple App Store. https://www.lego.com/en-us/themes/mindstorms/downloads . Since we started with the even longer retired NXT 2.0 software, we enjoyed the granularity of the blocks and options. 

EV3 Home App (based on Scratch 3.0)

There is a scratch-based interface available. It seems functional and we'll give it a shot.

Lego SPIKE Software

The SPIKE software was released in 2020.  SPIKE Software offers three options for coding: Icon Blocks (similar to WeDo 2.0), Word Blocks (pretty much Scratch), or Python. At this point, this seems to be the most versatile option. It does not seem to be possible to program EV3 bricks with the software. Software is available here: https://education.lego.com/en-us/downloads/spike-app/software

Python-based interface in SPIKE PRIME

Icon Based Interface in SPIKE PRIME:

Summary

The different LEGO sets combined with various software programs are confusing at least. However, with the latest SPIKE PRIME software and Scratch becoming a mainstream children-friendly coding platform, it seems things are getting streamlined.