Energy to work out the power;Subject of the Week;Technology;Reviews;Cross Phase

29th October 1999 at 01:00
LEGO DACTA. eLAB pound;185.50. Activity pack pound;18.50. www.lego.comdactaelab

Seventy five per cent of households with children have a Lego collection. The percentage of schools with Lego must be even higher and the crossover between education and the home market is growing.

Shell Renewables is the business arm of the petrochemical giant which explores the potential of new technologies for energy.

The eLAB package is a fascinating joint effort to help young people from nine to 16 explore new energy conversion technologies using wind, solar and water power.

It supports a high quality programme of study in this field, using specially made Lego components which can combine with Lego Dacta's Robolab science software and the programmable Lego brick. Included in the kit is the smallest solar panel ever developed by Shell. There are also electrical and mechanical energy storage capacitors, small motors and assorted components from the familiar Dacta range.

The eLAB Energy Work Power starter set provides enough material for four groups of two to four students to explore the world of potential, kinetic and electrical energy. Three sets would provide enough material for an average sized class.

The eLAB Renewable Energy set picks up these themes and focuses on sustainable energy from wind, sun and water power. The two activity packs provide good quality support for each kit by way of learning objectives for lessons, discussion topics and practical worksheets.

During home trials, our children (aged five to 13) got a real sense of achievement from the building and gained good insight into the difficult concepts of energy storage and conversion. Here again, the Lego Dacta Concept guide offers a very readable and inviting introduction to energy. At the Knights Templar school, in Baldock Hertfordshire (the first school to try the package) the science department envisages using the kit right up to the sixth form.

eLAB should help students across a wide age range to explore one of the key issues for the next generation in a way that is entertaining and has great potential for extended work at all ability levels.

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