Reviewed by: Leo Burd and Jennifer Peterson
Logiblocs, developed by Action Products, is an electronic building system designed to "challenge children imagination" and let them "have fun with the science of light". Logiblocs usually come packaged in kit, though they can be bought separately. Each kit has a different combination of electronic blocs that can be assembled in various patterns. The kit we analyzed is called "Light Tag Pack" and came with a battery adapter block, a cross-connector, a light switch, a delay block, a beep, a not block, and a red LED light block.
The system is targeted at children 7 and older. It comes with a manual describing the different blocks and three examples of what can be done with them. However, it is unclear who is supposed to read this manual. Base on its wording, we suspect a parent would have to help the child read the manual it they were on the lower end of the suggested age. The manual does contain pictures for children who find reading difficult, but some of the pictures are not very clear. The pictures often simply show the next block that should be used to create the circuit and not where to connect it. We suspect however, that children would start playing with the blocks as soon as they open the box, nullifying the use of the manual. Here are some more specific comments:
Motivation: The project ideas described in the manual seem to be very fun and whimsical! Children may create a light tag, a light beam alarm, or a treasure hunt game. However, if a child owns multiple kits or if they are playing with other children also have their own kits, much more elaborated games and circuits can be created.
Support to Creativity: Even though blocks can be combined in different ways, it is very hard to imagine how much children will be able to accomplish with such a small number of pieces in one kit. The manual says that the company website contains variety of project ideas. However, when we went to the site we couldn't find any. In fact, most of the other Logibloc kits seem to only contain 3 or 4 projects.
Aesthetics and Malleability: Each block would be very attractive to children. However, they seemed to be a little bit fragile, and the battery adapter is completely different from the other blocks. In fact, the 9-Volt battery seems to be always hanging in an awkward way. In the manual, they recommend children disconnect the battery in order to conserve the power. Unfortunately, the connector seems fairly difficult to remove, and the leads do not seem to be strong enough to be resistant to excessive pulling. A power switch would serve this purpose much better! Another problem is that the manual strongly suggests that the blocks be places back in the container for safekeeping. The problem here is that the container is made out of a thin molded plastic that tears easily. If the goal was to keep the block in the original container, a different packaging should have been provided.
Relationship to Education: The nicest feature of the kit, and other Logibloc kits that they sell is that the and, not, and or blocks show a picture of the actual digital logic symbol on the top. This is also true of cross blocks and splitters. The problem is that outside of saying the block is and and, not, or or, the manual does not explain the concept of each block. The timers show a clock, which is also helpful. We believe that if the blocks were played with enough, all of the pictures would provide a sound visual representation of basic logic circuit symbols. This base knowledge should help the child in the future with any further exploration of basic circuit design. The Logiblocs use in classrooms by teachers is not obvious though we did find some online resources that explain educational uses for the blocks. We all know that the blocks relate to computer operations and to electricity, but the relationship is not obvious for somebody outside the Computer Science domain.In our opinion, there is a big difference between educational materials and basic construction sets. The Logibloc set would be even better if Action Products had explored the educational aspects of Logiblocs as much as they explored the construction side.