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Pull the levers of power

Lego Dacta Early Simple Machines: #163;57Lego Dacta Mini Sets: #163;12Lego + Dacta Simple and Powered Mechanisms: #163;56-74Lego Dacta, Ruthin Road, + Wrexham, LL13 7TQ. Tel: 01978 296292Age range: 5-11Although Lego Dacta has + always been synonymous with quality technology products, there has been little + to connect the products to further activities such as computer control and + sensing in science in primary schools. However, this is about to change with + Early Simple Machines (for five to eight-year-olds), Mini Sets (for seven to + nine-year-olds) and Simple and Powered Mechanisms (for nine to 11-year-olds). + For teaching mechanisms to young children, the Early Simple Machines set covers+ all mechanical principles with big elements that are easy to use for small + hands. A teacher activity pack includes a guide with additional pupil cards for+ investigation and problem-solving activities.For the next key stage, Lego + Dacta has introduced the new, low-cost Mini Sets. These are ideal for focused + tasks concentrating on one mechanical principle - either gears, levers, pulleys+ or wheels and axles. They are ideal for the non-specialist teacher and for + classes which have not had previous experience with construction sets. They can+ also be used for reinforcing and extending the knowledge gained previously via+ Early Simple Machines. The excellent teacher's guides are obviously written + and developed by teachers.Simple and Powered Mechanisms offers a structured + approach for teaching mechanisms to older juniors. The kit replaces Lego + Dacta's long-standing Technic I and 2 sets and offers a huge improvement. The + powered system is compatible with the rest of the Lego Dacta range and the + teacher support material is again excellent. It provides the teacher with an + instant lesson plan to enable children to learn through exploration, + investigation and problem-solving. In addition, the kit has more elements such + as cams, belts, racks and wheels including a new gearbox, a better storage + facility with a transparent sorting tray and snap-on lid. Above all, the kit + enables the teacher to cover all aspects of simple and powered mechanisms. + There's now a natural progression from Early Simple Machines and the focused + and reinforced tasks based on one mechanical principle at the beginning of key + stage 2 with the Mini Sets. Teachers who are confident teaching mechanisms may + want to use only Simple and Powered Mechanisms for the whole of key stage 2, as+ the support material provides the complete development with lesson plans and + background information. Lego Dacta kits are typically regarded as expensive but+ my school's experience is otherwise. With careful management, our Technic 1 + and 2 kits have been going strong for nearly 10 years now. Funds are tight but + if you are looking for technology kits which take you by the hand, introducing + and developing all the basic aspects of mechanisms, driving systems and + structures, these new kits fulfil the role perfectly. Chris Drage

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