New “Special Ops” Theme in Upcoming Camps!

Lego Rescue
Lego “Medical Rescue” Mission
Starting with the July 21 and 25 camp in Dublin, all of our Summer 2014 camps will feature a new “Special Ops” theme. Students will build robots to complete a new array of challenges on our newly designed “Special Ops” competition course such as a “Medical Rescue” mission and a “Rescue the Prisoners” mission. CLICK HERE to view our remaining camps! First-time students as well as students who have already graduated from one of our camps will enjoy working on these new challenges. 

Kids build the craziest contraptions with Lego robotics!

A simple NXT robot that students can build using the included instruction manual

The key to using Lego robotics as an educational tool is imagination.  Luckily, kids have plenty of imagination.  

When kids first get their hands on a Lego NXT kit, they will tend to just build the robot designs that are outlined in the instruction manual.  This is normal.  They grew up building Lego towers, cars and castles piece-by-piece, following the instruction manual very closely.  Lego robots can be built the same way.  However, the serious learning will start once they gain the confidence necessary to set the instruction manuals aside and begin using their own imaginations as a guide.  In my experience, most kids reach this point naturally after a certain period of time.  After a certain number of hours spent tinkering around with robots built from the instruction manual, a student will have an “ah hah!” moment, realizing that they can use the motors, sensors and wires provided in the NXT kit to create robots according to their own designs.  As a Lego robotics coach and instructor, I do my best to help students reach this point by showing them the types of designs they could create.  As a parent or teacher, you can do the same thing!

Once young people are empowered and encouraged to go “off-grid” and create their own designs, it is amazing what they can come up with.  Below are some interesting examples of crazy designs that people have come up with using Lego robotics.

For when you get tired of cutting cakes yourself.  A Lego Cake Cutter:

Here’s one that’s incredibly useful.  A Lego toilet flusher, for all the times your family members forget to do it themselves:

This one is a little impractical, but very cute:

Your children can build things like this too, with a little encouragement! Comment if you have any thoughts on this, or if you have seen other crazy designs worth sharing.

Why robotics is important to early childhood education

I have always known that robotics is an extremely helpful tool for improving young students’ problem solving skills and technological literacy, but now there is scientific evidence to back it up!  Researchers from the ACU School of Education have demonstrated that children who use robotics in the classroom exhibit increased engagement in their education as well as greater development of literacy skills, numeracy skills and interpersonal skills (McDonald & Howell, 2012).  

Robotics is helpful in education because students find it tangible and exciting.  Having been an instructor at Lego Robotics camps, classes and after-school programs for over 5 years,  I have witnessed hundreds of success stories.  Even students who are impacted by autism or ADHD are able to engage in Lego robotics because they can relate to it and enjoy it.  I have seen these students not only excel at robotics, but also become more engaged in their coursework related to science and mathematics as a direct result.  

Of course, I did not discover this by accident.  I was 10 years old when the first Lego Mindstorms robotics kit hit the shelves, and I remember begging my parents to buy me one for Christmas.  As a child, I spent countless hours on my bedroom floor tinkering with robotics designs and writing programs to solve various problems.  I even made a robot that turned the lights off in my room after I left so that I wouldn’t get in trouble with my parents for leaving them on.  I know that my childhood education was benefited by these experiences, and that’s why I am so dedicated to the cause.  

Here’s a call out to science and math teachers across the nation.  Start using robots!

Works Cited

McDonald, S., & Howell, J. (2012). Watching, creating and achieving: Creative technologies as a conduit for learning in the early years. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(4), 641–651. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01231.x