Innovative practice - Learning, brick by brick

16th December 2011 at 00:00
Teaching Stem subjects using programmable Lego robots in a purpose-built education centre

The background

The Stockley Academy, which opened in 2005 and is sponsored by Brunel University, chose to specialise in science and technology. Aftab Ahmed, head of ICT, was keen to find ways to bring those subjects to life and was researching projects involving the subjects online when he came across reports on Lego Education Centres. In Scandinavia 140 have opened since 2003, and more have been set up in the US and Asia. But none had been established in the UK - so Mr Ahmed contacted Lego.

The approach

Stockley Academy assigned one of its rooms to act as its Lego Education Centre in 2009 and spent about #163;15,000 on the kit, including robots, software, Lego pieces, educational materials and furniture. Teachers at the school also received training from Dacta, a company that provides Lego education.

"It may be Lego kit, but you need training because the kit can actually be very technical," Mr Ahmed says.

Teachers use large, programmable Lego robots, as well as small power stations and bridges, to teach pupils Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

The academy has invited its feeder primary schools in for lessons at the centre and also works with pupils on programming projects up to university level.

Tips from the scheme

- Training staff to use the kit is crucial.

- Think carefully about what kits are relevant to the subjects you teach. If you are going to use a robotics kit, for example, pupils will need time to learn the programming language.

- As at home, small Lego pieces can be lost, so make sure you have a store of back-ups to replenish them.

Evidence that it works?

The popularity of the centre with science and technology teachers at the school is one sign of its success, Mr Ahmed says. It has also had visitors from other schools across the UK that are interested in setting up their own education centres.

The project

Approach: Teaching Stem subjects using programmable Lego figures

Started: 2009

Leader: Aftab Ahmed, director of ICT

The school

Name: Stockley Academy

Location: Yiewsley, Middlesex

Intake: Co-educational secondary school with 953 students

Ofsted overall rating: Satisfactory.

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