A cynical observer might dismiss the PicoCricket Kit as “Mindstorms meets Martha Stewart”—a mere repackaging of the programmable brick idea with cuddlier accessories. But that would miss the point. Silverman argues that the Mindstorms kits, and most other Lego kits, are configured largely to allow customers to build the specific models shown on the boxes. PicoCricket, on the other hand, is about giving kids a chance to build objects out of their imaginations, then program them with interesting behaviors. One example suggested on the activity cards that come with the kit: a cardboard cat equipped with a light sensor that triggers a meowing sound when the user strokes the cat’s back.
“Lego doesn’t see themselves as a brick company; they see themselves as a model company, in that the units they sell are the models, rather than the elements,” Silverman says. “We are more of an elements company. We’re not even really trying to teach kids about programming —— it’s about allowing them to use their imaginations.”