Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Engineering with Legos

At around 9:30 on the morning of July 8 I introduced the 13 students in my GED695 Teaching K - 8 Science and Engineering class to the world of Lego-based engineering. Nine of them chose the K - 5 Lego Wedo sets and 4 chose the 5 - 8 Lego Mindstorms. None of the students had ever seen these particular Lego kits before, most were nervous, a little anxious and wondering how on earth they would ever master building a Lego model and then programming it with their computer.

By 10:30 they were all proudly demonstrating how they had built and programmedeither the "Dancing Birds" Wedo model . By 12:30 they had all built and presented a model of their choice including those working with the more complex Mindstorm kits. They were amazed with their success and empowered by what they had achieved.

As a learning tool it is quite remarkable how Lego has scaffolded the task of building and programming a model built of Lego bricks that provides students with a learning experience they most likely have never never experienced before. To use a computer to control something attached to it externally by coding is an amazingly empowering activity. The coding process uses images and so is not language dependent (traditional language that is) so it's a great activity of students who are linguistically challenged or who are English Learners. 

The really neat thing about this experience was that three of the graduate students in the class brought their own children to take part in the activities

A real pioneer in the development of the engineering part of the elementary school curriculum is the Boston Museum of Science and Engineering and their Engineering is Elementary program.

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