The eponymous toy brick brand Lego announced a new learning system for robotics at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, but has since gone on to launch the product in Australia last month.
Described as a ‘robot learning system’, WeDo 2.0 combines Lego bricks, specialist education software and its own syllabus of projects, aimed at teaching students aged 7-10 about the basics of science and engineering.
For educators who gain access to the system, teachers also receive training, example curriculum and assessment options to work with, making it easier to implement.
All told, the Lego WeDo 2.0 curriculum contains over 40 hours of lessons and activities.
Speaking with Dr Chris Chalmers, Robotics Project Leader and Lecturer at Queensland University Technology (QUT), Education Matters discussed her involvement with Lego Education on the product.
“I have been involved in robotics education for a number of years, including running the Robotics@QUT Outreach Program since 2010,” Dr Chalmers said.
“Over years of research, I realised there was a piece of the STEM puzzle missing. We were engaging with upper primary and high school students, teachers, pre-service teachers and even parents with robotics-based STEM activities, but we were missing out on reaching the early years. Research is telling us that if kids don’t form positive attitudes towards STEM early in life then they can find it difficult to engage later on, so there was a huge need to plug this gap.”
According to Dr Chalmers, Lego Education’s WeDo 2.0 system “does just this”.
“it allows students to be involved in a fun and engaging STEM learning environment, while the WeDo 2.0 curriculum package allows teachers to easily integrate the hands-on activities into their classrooms. I was involved in mapping these activities to the Australian Curriculum: Science and Technologies.”
There are 17 projects in the entire curriculum, which includes one ‘Getting Started’ projects, eight ‘Guided’ projects and eight ‘Open’ projects. The latter being designed to give students the ability to be as creative as they like.
“In my experience, Lego Education robotics activities engage a diverse range of students and serve as a hook for building interest and enthusiasm across all STEM-related areas,” explained Dr Chalmers. “Lego robotics work equally well across a range academic abilities, including extending gifted and talented students, increasing the engagement of students who may be otherwise disenchanted with school, and building the social skills of students who struggle with teamwork.”
Global Master Trainer for Lego Education, Rob Widger, says the system is also available to parents who may wish to introduce robotics to their children out of school hours.
“Any LEGO Education resource is available for parents to purchase for use at home. The product is easy to set up and doesn’t require any special technology – just a desktop computer, laptop or tablet, and plenty of enthusiasm!”
Prices for WeDo 2.0 start at $230 for the core set and software pack, which Mr Widger says is suitable for two or three students, but that expansions are available at additional cost.
“We are very conscious that school resources can be limited so we work very hard to keep the price for classrooms as low as possible. Schools can be confident that LEGO Education provides a high quality product that is engineered to last and carries the trusted LEGO brand,” he said.