UAS Robotics ~ Week Four: What project could help me integrate my content with making?
A growth mindset and a sense of adventure are key components for the Making concepts. Making gives students (or anyone, really) an opportunity to find a passion. Making provides a context to place academic learning in the “heart, mind, and hands” (a concept championed by 18th century educator Pestalozzi) in pursuit of deepening students’ conceptual understanding of content. A loose translation for today would be that we use Making to focus on learning character traits, content, process, and skills. Making is any activity where people create something, often with their hands….So what makes “Making” different from traditional classes? When people Make, they mix things together in new ways (edsurge.com).
The first thing that always comes to mind when we discuss Making in this class is Legos. When my kids get a boxed set of Legos, they have instructions and they can’t wait to get home and rip open the box and put the set together. But any parent or teacher will tell the set does not stay together long. After a while the pieces are mixed together and there is no evidence that there ever a set to begin with.
We have tubs and tubs full of Legos. My kids love to get a tub out and build cars, ships, and houses with the mixed sets that we have. This is where the Making concept happens, they see it, the build it, and they can’t wait to show me what they created. In my house, we even use Legos for Math concepts.
Bag your LEGO into Kits
When preparing for a LEGO lesson, I rarely give students access to the full range of LEGO pieces. Ahead of time, I prepare Ziploc bags with a careful selection of the pieces I know my students will need to complete the assignment.
I also make sure my students understand how to return their bags of bricks. Bags are to be sealed and bricks are separated, unless they received a bag of “towers.” I often use LEGO-math as a math center activity, and the students are remarkably independent when they are provided with clearly labeled bags of specific bricks.
Teaching STEM with LEGO Education
LEGO Education was started in the early 1980s as a consolidation of previous efforts to use LEGO materials in support of education. By creating a separate division dedicated to the improvement of student learning, the LEGO group became one of the leading multinationals companies to show a serious commitment to social responsibility. LEGO Education set about its mission by creating a learning philosophy based on learners acquiring knowledge through active participation in their own learning experiences. LEGO has produced a series of integrated curriculum materials that serve as an excellent resource for teaching STEM concepts.
The LEGO Education learning philosophy is built on the “four Cs” concept:
Connect – Construct – Contemplate – Continue
Learners are given an open-ended task that allows them to find their own solution to the challenges placed before them. The active engagement of students in problem solving encourages them to connect to their own interests and motivations. Students are encouraged to ask questions and explore ideas to connect their newly acquired learning to their existing knowledge and areas of interest.
The core of every LEGO task involves building. By actively learning through tactile experience, students construct knowledge in their minds. Students also construct knowledge with others in group settings, where collaboration extends their learning even further.
Students are given the opportunity to consider what they have learned through the construction activities. Through contemplation, students ask reflective questions about both the content and process of their learning. These questions are designed to help learners gain awareness of the process in which they are engaged, and to encourage exploring new ways to go about finding solutions to the challenges set before them.
Every LEGO task ends with a new task that builds on what has just been learned. Thus, students are encouraged to continue their exploration and extend the experience beyond the classroom.
The LEGO Education curricula provide students a unique combination of challenges and hands-on experiences designed to their particular skill level. Students are given the chance to build meaningful artifacts with their own hands both individually and in group settings. By using the LEGO Education materials, students become motivated and excited to learn.
LEGO Education materials can also help promote effective teaching of STEM subjects. All the units are developed in close collaboration with teachers and education experts, with a focus on the need for comprehensive solutions to make learning interesting and motivating — while also adhering to the national core standards for science, technology, engineering and math.
Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (n.d.). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom.
Makers in the Classroom: A How-To-Guide. Vanderwerff, Aaron. May 14, 2014. Retrieved June 8, 2016, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-05-14-makers-in-the-classroom-a-how-to-guide
Using LEGO to Build Math Concepts. Zimmerman, Alycia. Dec 27, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2016, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2013/12/using-lego-build-math-concepts
Teaching STEM with LEGO Education. n.d. Retrieved June 8, 2016, from http://lessonplanspage.com/teaching-stem-with-lego-education/