My kids are getting a double dose of a great STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics learning program. I am teaching a local Lego and Robotics Academy 4H club with my kids and several other families. Each month our families get together to learn about STEM through fun hands on activities with Legos and Robots.
We recently started using a kit called Lego Education We Do. It is a beginning Robotics program. We were able to order the complete kit (W991527) with the parts, software, curriculum $199.95, and the complete set of additional extension curriculum too (W991837) $179.95 thanks to a donation from one of our club members who recently won product credit in a Lego Education contest and generously donated some of their winnings (see the story here about their family and the video).
By teaching the class, my kids get to be my guinea pigs so to speak. I am teaching them as a proto type I guess so I can work out the kinks in my lessons, and my program can flow smoothly during the 4H meetings. So my kids are getting to learn it at home as well as in our 4H club as I prepare the lessons for the class.
My kids anxiously await the opening of the kit.
Though the kit is small, there is an amazing amount of learning that can be done with it. It comes with curriculum, software, and the box filled with parts. Besides Lego building bricks, some of the other parts in the box are a motor, tilt sensor, motion sensor, USB hub.
You can buy the items separately or buy them as a whole kit. The whole kit (box of parts, curriculum, and software) comes with everything you need except a computer. There is also an extension set of curriculum and activities you can buy to extend the learning after you master the first set of curriculum.
The initial kit is designed to build 20 “Getting Started” lessons, and 12 robotic models in four themes (three in each theme).
Amazing Mechanisms (focusses on physical science):
Wild Animals (focusses on technology):
Play Soccer (focusses on mathematics):
Adventure Stories (focusses on language, drama, and answers questions of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, AND WHY):
Basically, before building in the theme models, there is a series of 20 “Getting Started” models that are very simple steps to introduce the kids to various concepts.
In the beginning “Getting Started” exercises, you build a model of a basic drawing, and practice programming the software to tell the model (motor and brick parts) what to do, and make observations of what happened. Each lesson builds on the foundation of the next, so the kids are understanding how each part worked that was built upon the last part.
In the simplest of explanations, the software is a set of computer commands that display in blocks on the computer screen. They are basically drag and drop into place concept. For example, to command the motor to move, you drag and drop into place the block that looks like the motor on the screen. Tell it how many seconds you want it to turn. Which way you want it to turn. If you want it to pause. If you want music or sound effects to play. If you want additional things such as it to sense movement or sense tilt before or after it moves, etc.
When we first opened the kit, we familiarized ourselves with the different vocabulary, the various parts, and the software. Then we completed 1-10 of the 20 “Getting Started” lessons.
Here are just a few selected examples of the lessons to tell you about things we learned. I won’t write about every lesson, but here are a few tidbits from a couple of the lessons. The lessons are much longer than what I have written here and fill a page with what to do and questions and answers.
1) Motor and Axle
Connecting the motor and axle together. Then connecting the motor to the usb hub. Then
connect the usb hub to the computer. Move the blocks on the computer screen to show:
start; turn motor this way; and stop the motor. Then the kids explain what happened and
what they observed, and learn why it happened.
3) Idler Gear
4) Gearing Down (slowing down the movement by using a small gear on the axle and a large gear).
Build the model shown in the diagram. Program the motor to start; and turn 10 rotations; and stop. The smaller gear turns fast in one direction. The large gear turns slower in the opposite direction. The larger gear turns slower because it only turns part of one rotation for every rotation the smaller gear turns. The small gear has 8 teeth. The large gear has 24 teeth. The small gear must turn three rotations to turn the large gear 1 rotation.
5) Gearing Up ( speeding up the movement by using a large gear on the axle and a small gear).
6) Tilt Sensor (causes a pause in the motor while waiting for a tilt in a certain direction).
7) Pulleys and Belt
Build the model with the various parts shown in the diagram, including adding the pulleys and belt. Program the motor to turn. The motor turns the axel, turns the pulley, the pulley turns the belt, the belt turns the se
cond pulley. This is called a belt drive.
8) Crossed Belt
9) Decrease Speed (slowing down movement by using a small pulley on the axel, a belt, and a large pulley).
10) Increase Speed (speaking up by using a large pulley on the axel, a belt, and a small pulley).
Build the model shown on the diagram. Program the software to start the motor; how long to run the motor; play a sound effect, stop the motor. These pulleys are moving in the same direction, and speed increases because the small pulley turns faster than the large pulley.
This is truly a great product to learn with. It is simple step by step instructions, questions to test understanding, and clearly identified learning objectives. I am very pleased with the quality of this curriculum.
My kids are excited too. Lego makes learning fun. You are playing and learning at the same time. Lego Education We Do is a fun way to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
I can’t wait to do these lessons next week with the kids in our club.
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