LEGO® Education products are perfect for children who need a little more time to grasp STEM concepts, or who learn better hands-on. 10 primary teachers share their thoughts on the STEM solution bringing fun back into tech class.
LEGO® Education has developed a comprehensive range of STEAM products that encourage students of all ages to design and create. Their latest product, BricQ Motion, is designed for students at primary and lower secondary school year levels. This wonderful kit provides hands-on STEAM learning experiences for students to explore forces and motion and their interactions.
There are two different kits in the LEGO Education BricQ Motion range:
- LEGO Education BricQ Motion Essential – Foundation – Year 5
- LEGO Education BricQ Motion Prime – Year 5 – Year 8
Both of these kits provide students with templates/lessons that support the learning of STEAM concepts without the need for a device in hand. The kits are colour-coded, making it so much easier for students to locate the various LEGO pieces than ever before.
LEGO Education BricQ Motion Essential Kit
The BricQ Motion Essential Kit is a hands-on STEAM solution for early years students. This kit allows students to explore physical science and experiment and create to bring it to life. The science concepts that this set covers include:
- push and pull
- forces and friction
- energy and motion
- 523 LEGO elements
- storage box and sorting trays
- two building instructions booklets
- Book 1 aimed at students from Foundation-Year 2
- Book 2 aimed at students from Year 3-5
LEGO Education BricQ Motion Prime Kit
The BricQ Morion Prime Kit challenges students in Year 5-8 to apply scientific inquiry skills while inspiring them to deepen their understanding of forces, motion and energy.
Science concepts that this set covers include:
- Newton’s law of motion
- forces and friction
- energy and motion
- scientific inquiry
- 562 LEGO elements
- building instruction booklet
- storage box and sorting trays
To support teachers to get the most from these kits along with all other LEGO products, teachers can find detailed lesson plans on the LEGO Education website that include video tutorials and templates as well as additional challenges for students to explore, all linked to the curriculum. https://education.lego.com/
There are currently two curriculum units available for the BricQ Motions kits on the LEGO Education website that are designed for teachers to follow to support students in developing key curriculum learning outcomes.
Each curriculum unit contains:
- seven to eight lessons of 45 minutes each
- 30 minutes of literacy and maths extension activities for each lesson
- six to ten hours of educational content
Curriculum Unit: Train to Win (Years F – 2)
The ‘Train to Win’ curriculum unit explores the concepts of forces and motion. Students explore a range of investigations about the cause and effect of push and pull forces.
Curriculum Unit: Winning with Science (Year 3-6)
The ‘Winning with Science’ curriculum unit explores the concepts of forces and motions with a focus on the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces. Students investigate the patterns within an object’s motions and begin to predict and determine its future motion.
Whenever I introduce a new resource into the classroom, I believe it is important to allow students time to explore and engage with the resource to gather an understanding of what it can achieve.
The great thing about the LEGO Education kits is that the possibilities are truly endless. Teachers can choose to follow the lesson guides provided or allow students the opportunity to create their own masterpieces to suit their learning experience.
When introducing the LEGO Education BricQ Motion set, I had students work in pairs to recreate one of the creations within the lesson guides. When students completed their design, they each shared their creations with another group. Once students have the understanding of how the BricQ set works and the various elements provided within the kit, I can confidently provide students with challenges aligned to our units of work, where they can use the lesson guides as a starting point and then adapt and change where needed to design their own creation.
Below are some lesson ideas to engage your students with the LEGO Education BricQ Motion sets.
LEGO Education Mini Olympics
With the Olympics planned to go ahead this year, students can recreate many of the events using BricQ Motion. Students can explore and create the different science concepts whilst having fun and competing in various Olympic events. Teachers can connect learning to not only the science curriculum but also the mathematics curriculum by creating tallies and totals of the results for each event.
Events to include in your mini Olympics:
*Refer to the Gravity Car Derby lesson on the LEGO Education website as a guide for students to use and adapt.
- Design a car to race against others.
- Students can create a variety of prototypes, testing wheel sizes, number of lego pieces etc to create the fastest moving car.
- Race the cars on a flat surface or alternatively create a small ramp and see which car travels the furthest.
*Refer to the Sailing Car lesson on the LEGO Education website.
- Students create their own Sailing Car.
- Explore what type of sail they would like to use ie paper thickness, sail size
- Race the Sailing Cars to see whose Sail Car travels the furthest.
* Refer to the Free Throw Catapult lesson on the LEGO Education website
- Students create a prototype to project a ball the furthest.
- Place small balls into the catapult to see how far their shot-put (small ball) travels.
The LEGO Education BricQ Motion kits provide many open-ended challenges for students to complete. These can be connected to the units of work you cover throughout the year.
Here are some challenges you might want to try with your students:
- Design a playground that shows different types of forces.
- Create something with a pulley function.
- Create a car of the future.
- Create an obstacle course.
How will you use LEGO® Education BricQ Motion in your classroom? We’d love to hear from you!
About the author
Eleni Kyritsis is an award-winning Year 3 teacher and Leader of Curriculum and innovation from Melbourne, Australia. Eleni facilitates professional learning workshops around the world that focus on unleashing creativity and curiosity in classrooms. You can contact her at elenikyritis.com and @misskyritsis
The skills of problem solving, critical thinking and creativity can be taught through STEAM learning experiences using robots, apps and technological gadgets, but how can we continue to provide children with opportunities to develop these STEAM skills without needing to use these technologies?
In this blog, we explore five games that support STEAM learning that can be conducted at home or school that do not involve technology or screen time.
ThinkFun – Code Programming Game Series
Players: Single or collaborative game play
40+ challenges per game
The Code Programming Game Series contains three games that were created by Mark Engleberg, a teacher and former programmer for NASA. These games are designed to build the skills needed to learn key coding concepts. They allow students to work through over 40 challenges from beginner to expert level. Each of these games develops students’ understanding of problem solving and computational thinking. All three games in this collection are screen-free, unplugged coding experiences.
On the Brink
On the Brink teaches procedures and problem solving skills through its single or multi-player game. The aim of the game is to use your problem solving skills to program the robot to move along the different game boards using the coloured control panel and movement cards. Each panel on the control panel has space for two movement cards which you need to program to move the robot from start to finish.
The game includes:
- Challenge booklet
- Instructions booklet
- Movement cards (grey = beginner, yellow = advanced)
- Control panel
- Robot character
Rover Control teaches control structures and problem solving skills through its single or multiplayer game. The aim of the game is to move the rover from start to finish. The rover can only be programmed to travel on the coloured paths. The game board has been wiped off the coloured paths, and players must use the clues to redesign the path and program the robot character to move it from start to finish for each mission.
The game includes:
- Challenge booklet
- Instructions booklet
- Solution booklet
- Game boards – Terrain cards x 4 (beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert)
- Whiteboard markers with erasers (red, green, blue)
- 2 x rovers (yellow, purple)
- Tokens that include (charging station, data upload, and rover start and end discs)
Robot Repair teaches logic principles which are a key part of programming. The aim of the game is to fix the four broken robots by connecting colours and wires on each of the game cards through the clues given on each mission challenge.
This game includes:
- Challenge booklet
- Instruction manual
- Solutions booklet
- Game boards
- Tokens (power cells, on/off and true/false)
Players: Single or pairs
Pixel Plezier is a puzzle game that helps students develop their understanding of binary code by creating pixel characters. Binary code represents text, computer processor instructions and any other data using a two-symbol number system consisting of ‘0’ and ‘1’ from the binary number system.
Within the kit there are 8 puzzles to create and solve. This is a great activity to have students complete on their own or working collaboratively in pairs. Each kit contains 8 puzzles and 4 coding mats (2 boards 7×7 and 2 boards 6×6).
Using this template, students can extend this game by creating their own Pixel binary code for others to solve.
Download: Pixel Plezier Template
Cyber Attack Board Game
The Cyber Attack Board Game supports students in developing their understanding of cyber safety and how to act and behave online. It follows the format of traditional board games with question cards related to digital problems that students may encounter online. If students get the answer correct they can either proceed forwards two places in the game or can move an opponent back two places. If they get an answer incorrect they move two places back.
This game can be extended by having students create their own question cards. This personalises the game, particularly if you have certain rules at school or home related to using a device and how to act and behave online.
About the author
Eleni Kyritsis is an award winning Year 3 teacher and Leader of Curriculum and innovation from Melbourne, Australia. Eleni facilitates professional learning workshops around the world that focus on unleashing creativity and curiosity in classrooms. You can contact her at elenikyritis.com and @misskyritsis
In Part One of Early STEM Activities , I discussed what STEM is, why STEM is important, listed my favourite STEM materials and shared some of my favourite STEM activities. In Part Two of this Early STEM Activities blog, I am excited to share plenty more STEM ideas. Continue reading “Early STEM Activities: Part Two”
STEM! It’s a word we have all been hearing a lot about lately! At the beginning of this year, I started teaching at a new school and quickly learnt that STEM was a focus for teaching and learning. To be honest, I felt quite nervous because I did not know much about STEM when I started. I had so many questions… What exactly is STEM? What does it look like with 5 year olds? Continue reading “Early STEM Activities: Part One”
The term ‘STEM’ is often a grey area for educators and parents alike. What exactly is it? How do I incorporate it into my curriculum planning or home? What resources do I need to help me do this?
Well, STEM refers to the integrative exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The focus on STEM in early childhood has grown dramatically over the years with the rise of technology and an increased understanding of the importance of these areas for life and careers of the future (think problem solvers, explorers, creative thinkers. Think building resilience in kids to create resilient adults).
So how do you incorporate STEM into your little one’s world? You may be surprised to realise that you are probably already doing this every day. Have you ever cooked with your child at home or with children in the classroom?
Think about all of the STEM moments that were happening:
Adding a cup of flour / oil / water = Maths (capacity and volume)
Adding an ingredient one by one, such as three eggs = Maths (numbers, counting and one-to-one correspondence)
How are we going to get the eggs out of their shell? = Engineering
Mixing different ingredients and observing the outcome = Science
Using senses to see, touch, smell, taste and hear = Science
Was the recipe from a book or was it from an online source? = Technology
Placing the mixture in the oven and watching it rise = Science
How many cupcakes did we make? = Maths
Think about when your little one has a bath. Are there toys that sink and float? What about a cup that they fill up and pour out. These are all STEM moments.
Do you go on nature walks and explore? Play with loose parts and make patterns or create structures? Do you value box construction play? Do you have blocks in your classroom or home? STEM moments! Have you seen children looking for butterflies? Counting petals on a flower? Building a cubby house? STEM moments!
Do you have toys with magnets? Have you ever built a marble run? Do your children build with Lego? STEM moments! Have you ever tried oobleck / playdough / kinetic sand? Do you have a tinker table in your classroom or home? Compost bin or worm farm? Light table? Torch?
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STEM! STEM! STEM!
Often, without us even realising, the intertwined relationship of these disciplines is occurring and children are learning and developing through play. Have you ever observed a child building a block tower? They will often count the number of blocks used and measure the height of the tower against themselves: “The tower is taller than me!” That’s engineering, maths and science entwined right there.
Whilst STEM is occurring naturally within a quality early childhood classroom setting through open-ended play opportunities and resources, STEM based activities may be intentionally planned at times too. For example, after reading The Three Little Pigs story, children might be encouraged to try and build a house of their own design from sensory materials such as recyclables / loose parts / blocks that can withstand the force of the wolf’s huff and puff (aka a fan). Beebots are often a part of schools’ curriculum planning and this may take on not only a coding role but also additional STEM elements.
Recently, we adopted silkworms into our home as ‘simple pets’ (full disclosure – 100 silkworms who are extremely hungry and need to be fed mulberry leaves constantly are not as ‘simple’ as I had anticipated). The language and learning around this was phenomenal and probably the reason you will find silkworms in a lot of Kindergarten classes around August and September every year.
Not only was it a great science-based project but we also spent time looking online and in books for information on how to care for them. We counted how many we had and added numbers as new silkworms were cocooning each day, we spoke about how we could help them find a space to cocoon (as they need to spin off something, usually a corner – our solution was to cut cardboard tubes into small cylinders and place around the box for the silkworms to cocoon inside) and so much more.
During the early years, children spend much of their time playing, however in an early learning environment the planning, scaffolding and intentional teaching that occurs is shaping those little minds and they are actually LEARNING THROUGH PLAY.
The blocks aren’t out only for fun. The opportunities for STEM learning while playing with blocks are endless. Not only are the children developing mathematical skills through engineering with 3D shapes, developing an understanding of quantity, number sense, spatial awareness and geometry, block play also develops science skills through the properties of materials, stability and balance.
Playing with loose parts offers children the opportunity to explore different materials, build and construct, use their imagination, count and make patterns, test density and stability and so much more.
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STEM in early childhood is occurring every day through observation, exploration, investigation, experimentation and most importantly – PLAY. “Play is not a break from learning. It is endless, delightful, deep, engaging, practical learning. It’s the doorway into the child’s heart!” ~ Vince Gowmon
How do you Incorporate STEM into your classroom ? We’d love to hear from you!
Brea Brand is an experienced teacher who is currently completing her Master of Education in Early Childhood. She has extensive experience working with young children, from working in schools, childcare centres, as a nanny and tutor as well as with her own three young children. Brea is passionate about learning through play and the social and emotional development of young children. Follow @wonder.and.awe for play and learning inspiration for both school and home.
I am a big advocate for embedding a maker culture in my classroom to deepen students understanding of topics. With an interdisciplinary approach, making, tinkering, and STEAM activities enable our students to design and create a piece of work that is embodied by teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking. Continue reading “10 Making Activities For The Classroom That Don’t Break The Budget”
What is a Makerspace?
A Makerspace can be any space in your school where students are able to come together to design, experiment, invent, craft and create. Makerspaces typically have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) focus, but can be tailored to apply to learning across all subject areas. Continue reading “What Is A Makerspace?”