Transforming Learning with LEGO® Education

Amanda Scott and Jennifer Wallace

In 2020, ICS Côte d’Azur was one of several Globeducate schools to participate in a pilot project bringing LEGO® education into the classroom and integrating it into the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum with SPIKE™ Prime and WeDo 2.0 Robotic kits. This project has now been extended across other Globeducate schools in our network of 55+ premium bilingual and international schools.

“This was the best lesson ever!” enthusiastically proclaimed one of our PY2 (Grade 1) students after creating her first robot during the introduction class to our new WeDo 2.0 Robotic kits. The students were handed the kits and their iPads with the app already installed (as an Apple Distinguished School all our classrooms are equipped with iPad technology and we encourage their use for both productivity and creativity), and after being given a few basic instructions to get them started, they were then largely left to their own resources to build and code their first robots. This approach fits perfectly with the ethos of the IB Primary Years Programme - putting students at the centre of their learning journey - and one certifiable way to shake up the classroom dynamic as a teacher is to hand out the materials and say ‘okay, now you show me how it’s done’.

It is hard to make concrete predictions about the world of tomorrow, but amongst all the uncertainties one thing becomes clear: we have to give students the tools and skills to navigate a future that will include lightning-speed changes and global challenges. Our students will be the designers and creators of tomorrow, and as such, they need to develop their design-process and critical thinking skills, as well as creativity and resilience, in collaborative environments.

And this is where working with LEGO® Education steps in.

After the initial introductory lessons where students got used to the look and feel of the Robotic Kits, challenges were introduced with varying degrees of difficulty by our teachers to spark our students’ curiosity, encourage them to engage in teamwork (sometimes across different age groups), and develop their higher order thinking skills. Working in The Hub, our dedicated STEAM lab that opened in April 2021 (which also houses our 3D printer, science equipment, a state of the art interactive touch screen and a green screen) students were now tasked with answering questions such as:

●      How to make a robot move without wheels?

●      Can you programme sounds and colours for your robot?

●      Can you build a robot that can navigate around the classroom?

●      What kind of invention could benefit our planet’s flora or fauna?

●      Can you create a robot for space exploration?

●      Can you invent a life hack?

Next came the experimentation phase. Students working with LEGO® Education kits are encouraged to share their thinking out loud with their teams, ask questions, and try different solutions. There is always the potential to fail: a vehicle that careens into a wall, a grabber that drops everything, a winch that gets stuck, a car that only drives backwards - coding hiccups and structural issues are par for the course. But our teachers stress the idea that there are always multiple solutions to a problem, and if at first you don’t succeed, then break your robot apart and build it back up again! Some brilliant ideas we have seen have been a helicopter that lowers a winch to rescue wildlife, a cleaning truck that can scoop up litter, a formula one racing car that can navigate the classroom (complete with sound effects), a robot that detects strangers with a motion sensor, and spinning, flashing wind farms.

Once designs have been tested and fine-tuned, they are then shared with the rest of the group and children are encouraged to talk about what they learnt during the process, including what was hard, and what was fun. We have even brought ICS Côte d’Azur families into The Hub on a Saturday, so that children could show their families their achievements: an event so popular that one parent said ‘My son couldn't wait to come to school on a Saturday - he just loves it!'

And here lies the heart of how we have approached integrating LEGO® Education kits into our STEAM curriculum. We put the emphasis on our students having fun and enjoying themselves, as we observe how these hands-on projects build their confidence through play, and help develop critical social and emotional skills. As an IB World School offering the Primary Years Programme, we strive to facilitate a love of lifelong learning, and working with LEGO® education has been an excellent tool to bring STEAM subjects to life, putting ICS Côte d’Azur at the forefront of innovative learning for Primary school children in the region.