By Dian Schaffhauser
LEGO Education is priming to help teachers in the new school year with initiatives intended to serve learning, whether it takes place in person or remotely. New programs include STEM lessons that include physical movement; downloadable teacher and parent guides; and a new online teacher community. Although the resources are all available at no cost, some may require access to LEGO or other products that aren’t free.
A new unit called “Training Trackers” will teach core science and math concepts using with LEGO’s LEGO Education SPIKE Prime, intended for use with middle schoolers. The unit has seven lessons focused on physical science and data, including new coding blocks that improve on data collection and visualization. In the lessons students learn about kinetic energy, speed, potential energy and other concepts as they “stretch, walk and squat-jump,” to collect data for analysis and interpretation. Each lesson plan identifies which learning stages can be completed asynchronously or in person, for hybrid learning scenarios.
The SPIKE Prime Training Trackers unit will be available this fall in English on legoeducation.com/lessons and will automatically download to the SPIKE App in a new software update. Additional languages supported by the SPIKE App are expected later in the year.
SPIKE Prime uses LEGO building elements, hardware and a drag-and-drop coding language based on Scratch or text-based coding with Python, to push students to tackle complex problems.
For virtual learning with SPIKE Prime, LEGO Education has worked with CoderZ to produce a virtual SPIKE Prime experience, enabling students to practice coding and STEAM skills in an online-only setting. The online experiences are intended to complement hands-on building activities with a physical SPIKE Prime Set, either before or in parallel.
“It’s more important than ever to continue learning through play–wherever the learning happens,” said Esben Stærk, president of LEGO Education, in a press release. “LEGO Education solutions provide playful learning experiences that not only teach important STEAM skills, but also social and emotional skills that together help build the confidence and resilience needed among students, teachers, and parents to rebuild and thrive this school year–and for years to come.”
The new teacher and parent guides, each two or three pages long, are intended to help people adapt LEGO Education lessons to virtual versions. They include tips on preparing for online learning, engaging online learners whose interest is flagging and managing materials at home. The lessons incorporate social aspects (“Try opening the virtual classroom a few minutes early and keeping it open for a few minutes after to allow time for your students to get settled and socialize”), screen breaks (recommended for every 30 to 45 minutes) and emotional development guidance for parents (“…If your child gets frustrated, guide them past their emotional response by discussing the source of their frustration. Make sure they know that you understand why they’re frustrated, and that it’s OK to feel that way…”).
Earlier this summer, LEGO also launched an education community, where educators can do lesson plan exchanges, participate in discussions and get updates from the company.
One participant, Jacob Woolcock, the head of computing and digital learning for Penpol School in Hayle, Cornwall, described the community as “a diverse and exciting group of educators willing to share their expertise, as well as learn from others and take these skills back to the children we teach.” Woolcock is a member of the newest cohort of LEGO Education “Master Educators,” a volunteer ambassador program for teachers who use LEGO Education resources in their everyday teaching. He said that “sharing and collaborating on ideas with other teachers from around the world will be an incredible resource for both new and experienced teachers, especially as we look to adapt and continue learning in the new school year.”