Science and technology is mandatory for all students from Kindergarten to Year 6.
In science and technology, students explore the natural and made worlds. They learn how to apply scientific and technological skills, knowledge and understanding across a broad range of contexts.
Science provides a way of inquiring about the world around us. It explores evidence and investigates ways to discover, develop and produce solutions to real world problems. The inquiry and skill-based nature of science opens doors to ideas and discoveries.
The inaugural year of Lego robotics at our school was a very happy and highly successful one. Every student in Years 2 to Year 6 had an hour lesson in the Lego robotics room once a week for the year. The program is taught by Mrs Jenny Garlick, a high school science teacher, with extensive experience teaching primary school robotics and science. Thanks to the generosity of the parents and citizens association (P&C), the robotics program is very well resourced, with all classes having one lego kit and computer per two children.
Year 2 students used the ‘early simple machines' and ‘simple machines' lego systems. They designed and built machines such ‘sam's dog' with eyes that could move in different directions and at different speeds. Extensive investigations with gears, pulleys, levers and wheels were carried out and the students were asked to problem solve. They were given design briefs such as the challenge to make a swing that was stable, had a seat for one person and swung backwards and forwards as slowly as possible.
Years 3 and 4 employed the ‘we do Lego robotics program' which involved programming robots and using sensors to interact with the environment. The children built and programmed robots such as the snapping crocodile, tweeting birds and roaring lion under the 4 main headings: living creatures, adventure stories, maths in sport and simple machines.
The Lego robotics program is worthwhile for many reasons as it:
- teaches the key learning areas (KLAs) especially science and technology (engineering), mathematics (measuring and recording), english (reporting and discussing) and visual arts (designing and creating).
- provides an excellent platform for open ended problem solving activities. These challenge students to think, question, investigate, test and explore and are especially important in extending our gifted and talented individuals.
- involves team work. In all lessons children work in teams of two and invaluable team skills are developed and practised.
- is hands on allowing for kinesthetic learning. 3D spatial relations and design are developed and practised. This style of learning is especially engaging for boys and often allows for students to find their niche.
- promotes students organising and caring for equipment.
- teaches resilience. When programs and designs are not producing the desired outcomes, the students are encouraged to see this as an exciting challenge and ask ‘Why?' and ‘How can I fix it? ‘Having a go', perseverance to produce the pupil's personal best and being proud of this, is what the program is all about.
A school blog has been set up to showcase the Lego robotics work to the greater community and to give all those robots that had to be disassembled a life beyond the lesson.
We are very excited about the future direction of the Lego robotics program. 2013 promises more of the same, only better! We have purchased more equipment for extension work in Year 4 and I anticipate developing a peer mentoring program in the classroom. Years 5 and 6 will have use of their own Lego robotics kits for extended periods of time so ongoing tasks can be undertaken with ease and students will have the increased responsibility of organising and maintaining their own equipment.