Academy is built on Lego education model
For some pupils, technology lessons mean graphic design or computer technology. But at Stockley Academy in Middlesex, which has a specialism in science and technology, it means Lego.
The academy is the first school in the UK to have a Lego Education Centre (LEC).
The LEC, which opened last week, is designed to develop essential skills built around the key areas of science, technology, engineering and mechanics (Stem).
Joos Bergh, the school's advanced skills teacher, said the project offered major advantages.
"When you are teaching theory lessons in the classroom students often need to apply it to a practical example," he said. "Using Lego, they can make the link and have more understanding on the theory of it."
Mr Bergh, who was given in-house training by Dacta, a company that provides Lego education, is currently teaching key stage 3 lessons on "motions and mechanisms" - a concept he says children always find hard to grasp. However, the LEC makes it much easier.
"I introduced the topic with a picture of a child crossing a river on rocks in Africa," he said. "I then gave some statistics on the amount of deaths caused by this danger. I asked the students to come up with a safer method of crossing."
The students developed ideas on building a bridge, using motions and mechanisms.
"Their ideas are fantastic, and we're looking into sending them to charities as a suggestion on building bridges to help those crossing rivers in Africa," he added.
Since 2003, more than 140 LECs have been established across Scandinavia. Aftab Ahmed, ICT director at Stockley, stumbled upon them two years ago while researching ways to develop the school's science status.
"We wanted to bring something different and unique to the academy," said Mr Ahmed.
"The LEC tackles cross-curricular subjects and brings out the best in students, both in practical and physical learning."
The academy has generated much local interest and primary schools are now considering working with Lego. And Dacta, with the support of educational software supplier RM, is running pilots in four other UK schools, each using Lego education packs. Teachers believe the benefits are endless.
"It's rewarding to see the students come in and be so enthusiastic," said Mr Ahmed. "No matter what their learning level, you can adapt it for the individual's needs.
"The UK has the skills to create a generation of engineers and scientists - why haven't we got more of these centres already?"