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Teaching STEM with LEGO Education
If you have looked at my work with www.mindsurfers.org or follow me on Twitter, you know that I came to STEM education through my affiliation with LEGO Education. For over 30 years, LEGO Education has been an innovator in the education field, offering products and curriculum material to nurture students from pre-K through college. For educators, LEGO Education material can be used to draw in students in a way that few other teaching tools can; with collaboration, there exists a multitude of activities and lesson plans that teachers, both novice and expert, can use to help students engage in STEM learning.
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.
Interested in exploring the opportunities to teach STEM subjects through LEGO Education material? I would suggest checking out the following websites:
Perhaps the most significant attribute of the LEGO Education programs is the students’ own motivation to participate in the learning experience. Most children know LEGO from playing at home, and although LEGO Education’s products are different from LEGO commercial products, students enter the education environment aware that using LEGOs is fun. This makes them motivated even before they begin.
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Solomon Menashi spent the first part of his professional life running a highly-successful, high-tech manufacturing firm. For the past 10 years, he’s been working in education — teaching, leading, and learning. He is founder and Executive Director of Mindsurfers, which focuses on building the confidence, skills and enthusiasm of underserved students in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering. Solomon holds an Ed.M from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. You can also follow him on Twitter at #mindsurfers.