Legos are often associated with stacked blocks that fit onto each other to build a structure. This is accurate, considering how the Lego toys have been in existence for over a hundred years. However, Lego has decided to evolve the brand and help educators and students improve the quality of education through Lego technologies. This is when Lego Education was launched.
Lego Education aims to “deliver playful learning experiences” to increase learner interest and subject impact. It is focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) preschool, primary, and secondary school students. It hopes to combine playful learning experiences with curriculum-relevant materials and digital resources to create a classroom environment that inspires, engages, and results in effective learning.
How is the use of Lego Education different from Conventional Teaching? Conventional Teaching (often called Traditional Teaching) is a method of teaching wherein the instructor initiates the discussions and puts the focus on the content from the textbook and notes. Students are viewed to receive the information in a passive manner and are expected to answer the examinations using memorized information. While this may not be entirely the approach currently used in the classrooms, technology is still not fully utilized to its potential, and schools still face challenges in switching to modern teaching methods. One of the best ways to utilize technology in teaching is through Lego Education.
Lego Learning Solutions are categorized into Early Learning, Primary and Secondary Solutions. For Early Learning, Lego Duplo is the primary tool. Designed for children 1 ½ to 5 years old, its purpose is to allow the students to investigate the physical world and develop critical social and computation skills through sorting, classification, construction, examination, and collaboration with others. Lego Duplo blocks are customized for preschool children’s needs. For children at 1 ½ of age, the package includes number trains, creative fun blocks, basic shapes, race car bricks, first creation bricks, large playground brick box, my first celebration bricks, my first animal bricks, balancing animals bricks, fun puzzles, tow truck, fun creations, and puzzle pets. For children with ages 2 and up, the package includes community brick models like the farmer’s market, airport, fire station, zoo, popular cartoon characters like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Spiderman, Toy Story characters, and Mickey Mouse, and living creatures’ models like Farm Animals and Zoo Animals. These toys enable students to learn shapes, sizes, numbers, colors, and motions, compare and contrast objects, and explore their imagination through building blocks and connecting bricks.
Primary Solutions also focus on hands-on experiences and engagement. Even more, it allows the linkage of STEM concepts to real-life events. Lego Education tools in this category include WeDo 2.0, Early Simple Machines, and Simple Machines. WeDo 2.0 kit includes 280 bricks, sensors and motors, and other tangible elements that can be hand-manipulated. Each set is meant to be played with by a pair of students to promote collaboration. Lesson Plans are also given to teachers, so they can utilize the toys for the class activities more effectively. The students are asked to combine the physical Lego bricks with block-based coding to enhance their problem-solving skills and creativity while working together. Early Simple Machines and Simple Machines are designed for manual set-up. The kits range from simple machine bricks to powered machines to renewal energy machines to pneumatics. All of these are designed to provide students with a basic understanding of machines and machine-related Science concepts while boosting their communication skills, creativity, and critical thinking.
Secondary Solutions focus on triggering students’ curiosity in order to sharpen their scientific inquiry, engineering design, and data analysis skills, skills that are vital to succeed in STEM classes. This category includes more advanced kits: Lego Education SPIKE Prime, Lego Mindstorms Education EV3, and Simple and Powered Machines. The Lego Education SPIKE Prime set is a basic robotics tool designed for grade 6-8 students. It combines the LEGO blocks with simple hardware and instinctual drag-and-drop coding language to produce learning activities that require students to solve complex problems and think outside the box. Specifically, the package includes three motors and three sensors, and the Smart Hub, which is the central brick that has six ports, a speaker, a 5 by 5 light matrix, a 6-axis gyroscope, Bluetooth, and a rechargeable battery.
Similarly, the Lego Mindstorm Education EV3 combines physical LEGO bricks with a block-based coding environment but more advanced grade levels. The advanced robotics set includes the EV3 Intelligent Brick, and a programmable computer to allow control of motors and collect sensor feedback. Also included are three Servo motors, and five sensors (Gyro, Ultrasonic, Color and two touch ones). The data collected are logged into the software and are accessible on various devices. This tool aims to make students career-ready through activities to require them to plan, predict, test, solve problems, analyze, and explore. Finally, simple Powered Machines at secondary level are more advanced and includes activities specific for high-school students.
Students of the new generation have a digital footprint, possibly since the day they were born. Teachers can use their technology-affinity to transform learning from a required task to a fun and engaging activity. LEGO Education tools will be a good choice to achieve this goal.