Learning is at the very core of the LEGO Group’s most heartfelt values, and the company’s education division has invested many years in cooperation and research with child development specialists and teaching professionals to build a rich understanding of what it takes to provide truly effective learning experiences.
LEGO® Education has been creating solutions for classrooms for 30 years. The skills and techniques that the LEGO System for Learning meets many of the needs of 21st century learners.
LEGO Education solutions enable students to be active, creative and collaborative solution-seekers. Children become systematically creative learners through:
- Learning by combining logic and reasoning with playfulness and imagination
- Learning by mastering a tool and giving form to thoughts
- Learning by combining, exploring and transforming ideas and objects
Children become active learners through:
- Learning by constructing things in the real world, and in this way constructing knowledge in their minds
- Making their mark and expressing their originality in the learning environment
- Feeling ownership and taking charge, being proactive and internally driven.
Children become collaborative learners through:
- Learning from interpreted experiences and explanations of other people, including peers and experts
- Learning through reflecting upon an experience, discussing why and how things worked in the accomplishment of a goal
- Helping each other to learn, each according to their ability, through the shared language of LEGO® bricks
In this way their instinct to learn is stimulated, and they are motivated to apply their learning in new contexts, which means that they embark on a self-directed learning process. We call this being ‘LEGO Smart™’.
LEGO Smart students use LEGO bricks and digital tools to solve problems creatively and to excel at working with others and thinking critically. By working in this way, they develop their understanding and ability to retain knowledge of key curriculum concepts, and therefore do well in school and on high-stakes tests.
Delivering learning experiences through a framework
LEGO® Education teaching resources embody a ‘Four C’ framework through which students are free to experiment and explore in order to gain new knowledge.
All LEGO tasks are designed to deliver a learning experience through this framework. The success of the Four C process is also dependent on the role of the facilitator in enabling students to achieve a state of Flow and to work collaboratively.
Learners are presented with a challenge or task that is open-ended and that places them in the position of solution-seekers. The active engagement of students always takes its starting point in questions asked by the learners themselves, thereby building on the students’ own initiative and interests. In the Connect phase the facilitator encourages learners to ask questions and explore ideas around the task before they get started. Their curiosity is awakened, and the task is within their reach. It builds on existing knowledge and areas of interest.
Every LEGO task involves a building activity. Active learning (or learning by doing) involves two types of construction: when children construct artifacts in the world, they simultaneously construct knowledge in their minds. This new knowledge then enables them to build even more sophisticated artifacts, a process which yields yet more knowledge, and so on, in a self-reinforcing cycle. To construct with others collaboratively extends this learning even further. Solutions that we create together are generally better than those we are able to create as individuals, due to the opportunities made available by the process.
Students are given the opportunity to consider what they have learned and to talk about and share insights they have gained during the Construct phase. In the Contemplate phase everyone is encouraged to ask facilitating questions about the process and learning so far. Facilitating questions are designed to help learners gain awareness of the process they are in and explore new ways to go about finding solutions to the task that has been set.
Every LEGO task ends with a new task that builds on what has just been learned. This phase is designed to keep the learner in ‘a state of Flow’. The Flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where a person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing.
For the Sciences and the Arts
LEGO® Education solutions lend themselves to both the sciences and the arts.
LEGO robotics and mechanisms solutions tap into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and allow students to engage with these subjects authentically. Practicing STEM in the classroom calls for problem- and project-based lessons as well as considerable social interaction; allowing students to refine one another’s ideas, to articulate their own and to achieve new and valuable insights.
Other solutions, such as LEGO play themes, LEGO Education WeDo™ and LEGO SERIOUS PLAY™ are powerful tools which children can use to express emotions and responses to nature, poetry, literature and concepts in the humanities such as citizenship. Working together to build shared expressions of their hopes for society and culture helps children to develop confidence and self-esteem.
LEGO® Education in Practice
Here are some examples of LEGO® resources in use in educational contexts:
A group of 4-year-olds use LEGO DUPLO® bricks to build the caterpillars Shorty and Stretch. They find things in the room that are “longer than”, “shorter than” and ‘exactly the same length as’ their caterpillar friends. Then they build their own caterpillars and use them to invent caterpillar stories.
A class of 10-year-olds uses the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY™ method to talk about caring for the environment. The children build models that metaphorically represent their ideas and understanding. This is a skill they have been trained in and is a deliberate deviation from the more traditional use of LEGO sets to reconstruct real-world objects. The method improves their ability to reflect on their thoughts and participate in constructive dialogue.
Primary and middle school physics students build LEGO models and use them to examine techniques such as capturing wind energy for transport or transforming energy by gearing down and concepts such as forces and wind resistance. They practice making accurate predictions and measurements, recording observations and findings.
Secondary mathematics students are asked to find a way to accurately control the speed at which a LEGO robot moves by logging the distance it travels over a period of time at varying speeds. The computer software includes a data logging component, so that when the robot moves, data is gathered and stored in a way that allows students to analyse and interpret it later. They are then able to calculate precisely how far, how fast and for how long a robot should travel to carry out a specific task.
Each year, children around the world form teams (representing schools, clubs and families) to build and programme robots to complete a robotics challenge using LEGO MINDSTORMS® sets. Teams compete in regional, national and international contests. The FIRST LEGO League challenge includes a research project on a given subject. In 2009 teams researched transportation. They identified the safest and most efficient ways possible to access people, places, goods and services. Team performance is measured on the quality of the research, the robot design, the team’s programming skills and the ability of the team to work together. Today the FLL involves more than 150,000 children aged 9 to 16 worldwide.
In all of these contexts the use of LEGO materials consistently helps to foster collaboration, imagination, resourcefulness, and equality. When everyone is building with LEGO bricks, they are on a level playing field, sharing their worldviews in the same international language.
The Eden Education Centre is proud to partner with LEGO® Education and bring this innovative learning experience to the students of South Wales.