Everything is Awesome with Dancing LEGOs

Learning Objectives:

To be able to describe and demonstrate how simple machines such as gears and pulleys can be utilized to make a simple LEGO robot move.  

To be able to describe how basic computer programming can be used to make a simple LEGO robot move.

The saying, “Everything is awesome” certainly holds true for LEGOs. You can use your imagination to build just about anything with these bricks. Now LEGOs are even more sophisticated and can be used to teach major concepts in engineering and computer programming.

I recently had the opportunity to assist with a robotics workshop for elementary school students that involved LEGO WeDo kits.  Kids as young as 5 were able to build a LEGO structure out of LEGO bricks and simple machines, use the WeDo computer program to create a simple code, and make their two LEGO birds dance.

During this activity, one child played the role of the “Engineer” and another the “Programmer.” The Engineer built the structure, while the Programmer controlled the computer. The two swapped roles half-way until they finished the project.

Each of the WeDo kits contained the LEGO pieces for making a variety of robots–hungry alligators, soccer goalkeepers, spinners, roaring lions, and more. The motors or sensors easily connected to a laptop computer via a USB port. Once the Engineer built the robot following the step-by-step instructions on the screen with the WeDo software, the programmer assisted in making the objects move by dragging together icons to make an appropriate code. For the most part, the entire process was straightforward and not too complicated.

If there is a robotics program at your local library or other enrichment program using LEGO WeDo kits, or you have $140 to spare, this kit is a great way to teach children (grades 5 and lower) engineering and programming with a fun twist.

Resources

Lego Education WeDo

Lego WeDo Building Instructions

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