SAN ANTONIO, TX /PRNewswire/ -- LEGO Education, The LEGO Group's educational division, announced LEGO Education WeDo, a new product that redefines classroom robotics, making it possible for primary school students 7–11 years of age to build and program their own solutions. Bridging the physical world, represented by LEGO models, and the virtual world, represented by computers and programming software, LEGO Education WeDo provides a hands-on, minds-on learning experience that actively involves young students in their own learning process and promotes children's creative thinking, teamwork and problem solving skills—skills that are essential in the workplace of the 21st century. The new product is on display at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio, TX, and will be available in the United States and Brazil beginning January 1, 2009.
LEGO Education WeDo encourages teachers to issue curriculum-based challenges for students to solve. Working in teams, children invent their own solution by building a LEGO model and programming it to perform a certain task. Cause and effect learning is enhanced by the models remaining tethered to a computer; similar to scientists in working labs, children can test and adjust their programming in real time. After reflecting on what did and did not work, students can consult with peers, adapt programming, adjust models or begin again. Newly-designed software developed by National Instruments, makes programming easy and intuitive and students quickly learn that they can solve real-world challenges by tinkering with building and programming.
Developed to cover a broad range of curriculum areas, WeDo sample topics include Language and Literacy: narrative and journalistic writing, storytelling, interviewing and interpreting; Mathematics: measuring time and distance, adding, multiplying, estimating, using variables; Science: transmission of motion, working with simple machines, gears, levers and pulleys; Technology: programming, using software media and creating a working model.
"Building upon our successful 10-year history of bringing educational robotics to middle, high school and university classrooms with the award-winning LEGO MINDSTORMS toolset, we are excited to extend this expertise to benefit an even younger audience," said Jens Maibom, vice president of LEGO Education. "With a progressively competitive global economy, we know it is imperative to provide even younger children and their teachers with curricular-relevant, easy-to-implement educational materials to spark children's interest in all manner of subjects. After observing classroom tests conducted in Brazil and the United States, we are confident that WeDo, the first product from LEGO Education designed to serve the classroom needs of emerging markets, will inspire teachers and motivate students in classrooms around the world."
"While still meeting state curriculum standards, the LEGO WeDo platform enabled me to start facilitating a new but natural process where my students had an opportunity to direct their own learning," said Debra Heath, science lab teacher for Don T. Durham Elementary School. "All of my students were so engaged in the lessons that they didn't realize they were learning; even the students who struggle in every subject were able to excel during LEGO WeDo projects."
The complete LEGO WeDo package includes:
- 158 brightly colored LEGO elements, including gears, and levers
- One LEGO USB Hub connects directly to a Mac/PC laptop, desktop, OLPC XO or Intel Classmate computer to allow control of hardware input (tilt and motion sensors) and output (motor), thereby bringing models to life
- One motor, one motion sensor and one tilt sensor
- Drag-and-drop icon-based software that provides an intuitive and easy-to-use programming environment suitable for beginners and experienced users alike, developed by a leading provider of engineering hardware and software, National Instruments
- Activity pack CD-Rom provides up to 24 hours of instruction and includes 12 activities based on four themes: Amazing Mechanisms, Wild Animals, Play Soccer and Adventure Stories. Running alongside programming software, activities are introduced via animations. Teacher notes and glossary are also included.
"The LEGO Group and National Instruments share a vision of inspiring design and creativity in children through hands-on, interactive learning," said Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations at National Instruments. "Through our joint development of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT and now LEGO Education WeDo, we are helping build an educational robotics platform, Powered by NI LabVIEW, that enhances science and engineering education for students in all age groups."
About The LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 4,500 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through its products, which can be purchased in more than 130 countries.