This is a review of the potential of using lego to build a maths curriculum:
1. The use of simple blocks and models to create primary lessons
There is a huge room for use of Lego in the primary curriculum. It needs structuring and codifying but I think it could be a real hit! Here are some key examples.
- Lego fractions
- Lego ratios
- volume and area calculations of cuboids
- multiplication tables built as quickly as possible
Some inspired educators on Printerest posted the following inspirations:
2. The development in the US of Lego “build to express” gives opportunities of using Lego in a more comprehensive modelling manner. At the heart of this idea is children using Lego to build a model and explore its learning possibilities. The lessons can be done in a guided manner to meet explicit learning goals or an inquiry led manner.
Here is a collection of a few interesting models developed by different US educators;
Great video discussing the process click here
Preliminary research done by Dr Little of Baylor University has shown that there is a high level of motivation created in this type of learning with an increased ability in problem solving.
3. WeDo Educational robots
Lego has been into education robots for the last 15 years. However the simplified educational robotics of WeDO have been tailored for the primary aged learner.
It is en excellent resource for teaching the basics of logic and programming. The mechanical items allow a full investigation of basic cogs, gears and levers. However I think with a bit of tailoring this resource could also be used to teach maths :
a) The robots could have to be programmed to complete tasks involving time, counting and speed.
b)Robotic cranes could be used to explore weights and height
c) The robots could be programmed to do activities which mimic multiplication e.g. Move 3 blocks to build a wall of 30 blocks or move round a multiplication maze
d) The robots could be used to play with the idea of percentage e.g. A robot could be fed blocks and for every block received the engine could go 10% faster or the robot could move 10% further.
What we need is a group of inspired educators to build a series of blinding maths lessons to utilise the learning potential of these systems.
4. Mindstorm – the grandady of educational robots
Mindstorm was first first brought to the market in 2006 and has gone through series of evolutions to create the present Mindstorm EV3 product. It combines the power of full technical Lego with a completely programmable robot which can receive sensor inputs and output to motors and pneumatic systems.
The Mindstorm product is used extensively in STEM engineering projects in educational setting. The programming language is an extended version of the WeDO interface giving a very quick intuitive approach to programming.
The potential for using this as a maths learning system is limited as the process of engineering would be take are too much of the time. Another approach to learn maths would be to have an automated city simulation where energy could be controlled. This could allow the investigation of:
a) Percentage increases and decreases
b) Linear programming to balance city loads
c) Algebraic solutions for traffic light systems
This product would need more investigation and could be replaced in maths learning with a combination of Wolfram connect to a raspberry pi.