Building Engineers in Primary School


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Lego building has come so far from when I was a kid, yet it’s just as popular now as it was then. I think the reason lego has remained so popular is the companies ability to change and recreate how we interact with lego. I’m talking about lego robotics!!

I’m lucky enough to work in a school that has a robotics program for Year 3 to Year 6 students. Students love this time and enjoy building and creating; then being able to interact with what they make by programming it on a computer. Robots can be programmed on PCs or Macs, and can be controlled via Bluetooth, downloadable apps or voice commands. It’s this ability to program their robot to move and complete tasks that is bringing lego into the 21st century. The skills involved give students the opportunity to use technology in ways that are meaningful to them whilst also teaching them valuable skills.

The skills students are engaged in foster creativity and problem solving. When students are involved with building lego they are designing, planning, constructing and most importantly reconstructing. Lego robotics is allowing primary school students to engage in the skills of an engineer. Lego has also created a way for novices to learn the basics of structural engineering: bracing, tension and compression, loading constraints and building to scale.

There are many names given to robotic lego, the latest one is Mindstorm. Mindstorm puts no limit on students’ creativity. There are up to 17 different robots you can make and the creators of Mindstorm always encourage users to come up with their own unique robot. If the education system wants to really bring about change and tap in to student potential and engagement then using Mindstorm or robotic lego is the way to do it.

The Mindstorm lego has a 3D building brochure that comes with it or you can download the app. Seeing students engage in 3D building brochures really allows them to visualize what they need to build. I also believe this helps students with spatial awareness. Students are required to view objects from different perspectives and often need to visualise shapes or objects in their mind when completing mathematics problems.

Although the downside to this technology is the cost involved, it is certainly proving to be a worthwhile investment at the school I am working in. Robots definitely get students engaged with something they find interesting, exciting and challenging. Using this technology has many benefits and positive pedagogical implications. Robots and building creatively can also be seen as part of the “maker movement”.


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One thought on “Building Engineers in Primary School

  1. Although my experience with Lego robotics is quite limited I definitely share your enthusiasms towards a hands on approach to education Larissa. I have just finished reading Luke McMahon’s blog post about teaching boys and I can safely assume all students involved in this process would be finding it extremely valuable. I believe we should take every opportunity for children to be able to participate in hands-on learning that they enjoy. As a Year 7 Science and Maths teacher, I find the significance of students collecting their own data or completing their own experiment as being boundless. I imagine the success you have with Lego Robotics is much the same. It might be time to butter my HOD up with a coffee and ask about the possibility of him making a new investment!

    Liked by 1 person

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