Castledine, A.-R., & Chalmers, C. (2011). LEGO Robotics: An Authentic Problem Solving Tool? Design and Technology Education, 16(3), 19–27.
The purpose of this study was to determine what problem solving skills sixth grade students were using when they worked with LEGO Mindstorms robotics to engage in math, science, and technology. There were two research questions: “1. What problem solving strategies do middle years’ students engage when utilizing LEGO robotics as an educational tool? 2. Are middle years’ students able to effectively relate problem solving strategies to other contexts?” The study took place in Brisbane at a primary school and there were twenty-three sixth grade students (12 male and 11 female) that participated.
The qualitative case study method was used in this study to collect data from the observations of the researches based on how groups problem solved, designed robots, made modifications, programmed software, and on how they completed two problem solving activities. It took place for two weeks with daily hour long lessons. The researchers recorded their observations after the lessons. The participants also completed a questionnaire after they completed the problem tasks.
The students in the study used estimation, number patterns, and trial and error strategies to complete their programming. Students in the study quickly learned how to program using the LEGO Mindstorms software. However, it was difficult for students to make connections with real world problems unless they were prompted to make the connections. Students need more scaffolding to learn how to make those types of connections.
This article is perfect for someone like me who is just beginning to learn about teaching robotics to sixth grade students. The methodology was laid out clearly and I could easily replicate it given the information they shared. The detail of the problems “The Race” and “The Maze” were great because I can now use those problems with my students when they are ready to program our EV3 robots. One problem is that only 23 students participated in the study. I am really thankful that I will not just assume that my students will learn how to make real world connections on their own, but that they need my help to come to those conclusions. I would recommend this article to anyone who is interested in teaching programming to elementary aged children.
Cheng, C.-C., Huang, P.-L., & Huang, K.-H. (2013). Cooperative Learning in Lego Robotics Projects: Exploring the Impacts of Group Formation on Interaction and Achievement. Journal of Networks, 8(7), 1529–1535. doi:10.4304/jnw.8.7.1529-1535
The study looked at how the grouping of students influenced how they interacted with one another and how that impacted their achievement with LEGO robotics. Data was collected qualitatively though interviews and video recordings, while quantitative data was collected as students interacted and performed on specific tasks. The data was collected during a week long summer camp in Taiwan in which 179 students (104 male and 75 female) participated and a variety of groups were formed of three to five students each. There were gender groupings: same gender, male dominant, female dominant, and gender balanced groups. There were ten groups of each type of gender group. There were age groupings: same age, senior dominant, junior dominant, and age balanced groups. There were also background groupings: normal, underprivileged, and mixed.
The researchers used frequency tables to count how many times students interacted while working on activities. They found that collaborative learning with LEGO robotics allows students to learn while they are experimenting and practicing the technology. The variety of groupings resulted in different learning outcomes. The researchers found that age, gender, and the background of the family did not relate to learning outcomes. Groups that were of the same gender communicated better than groups in which boys were outnumbered by girls. Gender equal groups felt more comfortable and were able to engage in deeper discussions about their learning. They also found that the more students interacted with their group members, the higher scores their team would earn.
The article was very detailed and included many tables, but the tables made the results hard to follow because they measured so many variables in the study. I think they should have focused on one of the factors such as gender instead of gender, age, and their backgrounds. Overall, it is difficult for me to be confident in their results because of this. One important thing I will keep in mind is that the more the students in the group interact with one another, the better their performance will be. I will have to find ways to motivate my groups to communicate while they work together. I would not recommend this article to someone who is going to be using LEGO robotics with their students because the methods that
Lindh, J., & Holgersson, T. (2007). Does Lego Training Stimulate Pupils’ Ability to Solve Logical Problems? Computers & Education, 49(4), 1097–1111. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2005.12.008
This study focused on how using constructivist learning theories during a one year LEGO robotics training would have an effect on student performance. They studied the participants before the treatment and after. They also had control groups. The study took place in Sweden and they gathered data from different schools from students in fourth and fifth grade, and eighth and ninth grade. The goal of the study was to investigate whether LEGO robotics should be implemented in more schools if their use improved mathematics performance. The null hypothesis was that the LEGO robotics would not have a positive or negative effect on how students solved math problems. The results of the study rejected the null hypothesis due to the results of a one-way ANOVA test for some students and it was not rejected in other cases, so while LEGO robotics might be beneficial for some students, it is not the case for all students. The students they found it to help were the medium-good students.
The role of the teacher in this study was as a facilitator since it was based on the constructivist learning theory. Students are expected to construct their own learning as they are active participants in their learning. The study used both qualitative research methods- observations, interviews, and inquiry, and quantitative research methods- mathematics and problems solving tests. The researchers did not find significant differences between age groups or between genders. They found that working groups should be 2-3 students per LEGO kit.
This article was helpful because it suggested some practical uses of LEGO robotics in the classroom. For example, before I begin using the LEGO Mindstorms in my classroom, I think I will give a math and problem-solving test. Then, I will break my students into groups of 2 to 3 students for each LEGO robot. I would recommend this article to anyone who is going to start working with LEGO robots because it gives some great suggestions for getting started such as having a large workspace available for students to spread out the bricks, giving them time to play, and choosing relevant problems for students to solve. I also liked that they think their study could be improved by making it a three-year longitudinal study with ten times as many students. They had 700 hundred students in this study, so I would love to see the results for 7,000 students.
Marulcu, I., & Barnett, M. (2012). Fifth Graders’ Learning About Simple Machines Through Engineering Design-Based Instruction Using LEGOTM Materials. Research in Science Education, 43(5), 1825–1850. doi:10.1007/s11165-012-9335-9
This study was conducted as part of a National Science Foundation project called Transforming Elementary Science Learning Through Lego Engineering Design. They developed a simple machines module that was based on engineering for thirty-five fifth grade students from an urban school in the United States. The authors define engineering design as “an activity that involves the construction of a physical product that solves a human problem.” The authors mention that some people think that technology has to involve using a computer, but there are other forms of technology such as LEGOs that also help people solve problems.
The researchers followed Sternberg’s Triarchic Intelligence principles that involve using analytical, creative, and practical skills while learning. The curriculum was designed to teach both science and technology with inquiry. The researchers used qualitative research methods for this study by conducting semi-structured interviews before instruction and after instruction. They also used quantitative research methods by testing the students with an identical paper test before and after instruction. They found that students who participated made significant gains in their content understanding.
I would recommend this article to anyone who is planning to use LEGOs or any other tool to teach their students how to construct a physical product. It is well organized and easy for an educator to follow. It has a wealth of background information about engineering, LEGOs, and curriculum. The curricular module in the study is easy to follow and understand. I am looking forward to applying what I have learned from reading this article to my project for this course.
Norton, S. J., McRobbie, C. J., & Ginns, I. S. (2006). Problem Solving in a Middle School Robotics Design Classroom. Research in Science Education, 37(3), 261–277. doi:10.1007/s11165-006-9025-6
In this study middle school students had to program and construct using LEGOs as they planned, built, and evaluated their projects. Teachers had to write clear goals and rules to teach students the programming language and LEGO construction. The study took place in Brisbane and investigated the implementation of a robotics unit for 20 weeks with 19 students in eighth, ninth, and tenth grades. They worked in six groups of three students and one group had four students. The unit required students to design a robot and program it to do a challenge. One challenge involved the robot moving six cans of soda from one circle to another within the two-minute time limit. Each group had a variety of tools at their disposal including: flow charts, Labview (programming language), LEGO’s, and a LEGO RCX brick.
The research methods were qualitative and quantitative and included observations, recording of students in the classroom, interviews of students, and artifacts including programs, plans, reports, photographs. The article includes quotes from both teachers that participated in the study about their goals for their students. The researchers found that the beliefs and goals of the teachers led to different approaches to the study. They also found that students spent less time building the robots than they did programming them.
This article reinforced some of the information I had already learned about teaching with LEGOs. I think that one key thing is that regular classroom tools such as pencils, paper, and desks, are not key tools for teaching and/or learning robotics. Students learn by trial and error. When something does not work, they have to figure out a way to make it work. I found the quotes from the interviews to be valuable because they showed two different viewpoints from two different teachers. I also found the student interviews to be valuable. Overall, this is a good article, but I think there are other articles that I read that I learned more from.
- Discuss your investigation into distribution methods. Name the distribution methods you investigated, how you learned about them and how you might use each one you investigated.
I have used YouTube to distribute materials that I have created. The great thing about it is that everyone knows about YouTube and millions of people use it every day to distribute materials. Millions of people also use it as a source of materials. If I want a lot of people to access my instructional videos, YouTube is one of the best ways to share my material. If I have multiple resources that are related, I can create channels specific to that topic. My district does not block YouTube from student or teacher accounts, so my students would have access to any videos that I post. I can also include YouTube videos in my Gooru Collections (www.goorulearning.org).
I found that the materials that were available as sources of information were limited on TeacherTube. It is great that it is a “safer” site than YouTube, but it still has advertising. I have never created an account on TeacherTube and it seems that most of the material that is available there is also available on YouTube. I would worry more about what might happen to my materials if TeacherTube disappeared one day than would have to worry about YouTube disappearing. I do not think that I would personally use it.
- Discuss your investigation into sources of information. List the sources you investigated, what you found and how you might make use of them.
search “Lego Robotics” about 139,000 results
YouTube is a great resource for finding resources. I was quickly able to find many videos about Lego robotics. If I wanted to be more specific, I could add the specific term “Mindstorms EV3.” However, just by skimming through the results I found many introduction to robotics videos. I might make use of them by including them in my Gooru collections for each session of my Lego Robotics course. I would need to find videos more specific to each session that I am planning to teach.
MIT OpenCourseWare- http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
search terms “robotics” and “lego robotics”
There were a lot of robotics courses that came up when I searched for robotics, but only two for “lego robotics.” The courses that I found were http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mechanical-engineering/2-12-introduction-to-robotics-fall-2005/ and http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/special-programs/sp-293-lego-robotics-spring-2007/. It was easy to click on the course and have the entire course available to look at and to use. There are components of both courses that I chose that I can use with my students. There was a great idea for a final project in the Introduction to Robotics course that requires students to build a rescue robot that would be used to rescue people after a natural disaster such as a hurricane (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mechanical-engineering/2-12-introduction-to-robotics-fall-2005/projects/final_project.pdf).
Search “lego mindstorms” results 26