My brother and I grew up playing with Lego all the time since it was made by simple solid plastic blocks. I remember the excitement when we had the first hollow pieces that were allowing to create some sort of articulation. Back then we did not even fathom the possibility of robotic Lego able to be complete action based on kids generated code...what a fantasy!
|My brother at 10 poses proud next to the |
robot he build using simple Lego blocks.
25 years later he published this picture in
the first page of his robotic engineering
In schools across the country and worldwide robotic courses are offered to all grade levels, using programmable Lego robotics. What an amazing tool for learning in a playful and engaging way, isn't it?! The only down side is the cost that this material has. Yes educators can hunt for grants, when available, or engage in creative and extended fund raisers using tools such as DonorChoose.org or GoFundMe.com still not always these money show up and in those cases there is just a lot of disappointment and great creative ideas are put back in storage for that "one day" in the future... What a sad alternative, isn't it?
This summer I had fortune to participate to a 3 workshop on advanced paper circuitry offered by Jeannine Huffman and David Cole organized by AKTeach, Kodiak Island Borough School District. This workshop was following up a year of training with paper circuitry building up to this advanced level requiring coding and soldering a microchip to a paper circuit for activating an hand made (cut and colored) paper robot.... yes a PAPER ROBOT!!!
|Jeannine Huffman's paper robot.|
Now the point I am trying to make is not that expensive technology is bad and cheep technology is good, but that you do not need to have a lot of money for offering students a creative, engaging, and technology rich learning experience! My personal approach is plan for no money and celebrate for whatever you can get!
In Alaska these days school districts are quite tight in finances, so this option of using simple and very low cost material is very appealing to teachers and administrations. I am personally planning to try to use a combination of fund raisers web tools such as DonorChoose.org and GoFundMe.com for purchasing the low cost material, so that I could use these money for offering this type of learning experience to a much larger number of students.