Creating a maze and then programming and constructing a robot to navigate it can provide a simple yet challenging activity to get started with LEGO Mindstorms.
Maze challenges can vary in level of difficulty but the basic idea is to construct a robot, and then program it to navigate a maze. Materials for the maze can be as simple as masking tape laid down on a flat surface that the robot can navigate.
Methods of navigating are equally varied. Motion and color sensors offer two different methods that a robot can use to move through a maze structure.
Two maze examples are linked below.
The Maze Challenge - a simple maze activity conducted with children aged 8-14.
"Eyes of the Robot" - an activity utilizing the color/light sensor and the ultrasonic sensor.
The LEGO Mindstorms website provides numerous robot builds to try out, as well as user-generated robot creations. If you're curious, come view the Library staff-created LEGO Mindstorms elephant and ask us for a demonstration of what it can do.
It is also worthwhile to explore some LEGO-building online communities to see what others have come up with. There are numerous Youtube channels, for example, where users upload video of their creations.
Building the robot is just one aspect of LEGO Mindstorms. Making it do what you want it to do requires use of the programming component. The LEGO Education website provides a number of resources including coding activities that can be used to develop programming skills and to help users navigate the accompanying LEGO Mindstorms software.