MacICT in partnership with LEGO Education are proud to announce that world renowned LEGO NXT and Education expert Barbara Bratzel will be presenting a keynote address and running hands-on workshops at Macquarie University on the 15th of August 2012!

Barbara Bratzel literally wrote the book on the LEGO NXT with “Physics by Design with NXT Mindstorms” now in its 3rd edition, based on the classes she ran as a science teacher for over a decade at Shady Hill School (a preK-8 independent school in Cambridge, Massachusetts). In addition she has also been a consulting teacher at the Center for Engineering Educational Outreach at Tufts University.

Barbara explains in the forward of her book: “engineering is a powerful tool in K-12 education, one that teaches critical thinking and a deeper understanding of mathematics and science concepts. More importantly, engineering gets kids excited—about science, about math, and about engineering itself. The first students who took Physics by Design are now in college and beyond. It gives me special pleasure that a number of them have gone on to pursue engineering–and have told me that their LEGO physics class started them down that path.”

At MacICT we believe that learning how to use technology is not enough; the heart of 21st century learning is about becoming a proficient and independent lifelong learner. For robotics this means that the robot is just the tool we use to teach curriculum content which inspires students to pursue knowledge in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) just as Barbara has done with her Physics program. Robotics encourages students to build strong 21st century skills of collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

Barbara’s skills and experience would be invaluable for any School or teacher planning a robotics program and we here at MacICT strongly encourage beginners and experienced robotics teachers alike to come along and learn about successful practical teaching strategies. Barbara will be presenting a keynote in the morning, but will also run hands-on workshops with teachers to demonstrate and brainstorm real life challenges for students.

Wednesday 15th August 2012 9am-3pm / Keynote + Workshops
Enrol via MyPL Course Code DV01799 / Flyer

How to book: Registration is via My PL@DET. If you are a non-Government School Teacher you can still register through this site (click here to download instructions). To find out more about MyPL click here. If you would like to pay via Credit Card please contact the Centre for a form at

How robotics is becoming increasingly important in education, and why? via

Why do Australians need to develop skills required for these futuristic machines? Robotics will play a major role in the future, so it is important we prepare the current generation of students for this. Paolo Fiorini, currently the co-chair of the IEEE’s Robot & Automation Society’s Education Committee, described the use of Robots for educational purposes as an “intriguing mix of theoretical and practical experience”. When used properly in schools the robots form the basis of a cross curriculum activity, an ideal resource that can be used to teach:

• Mathematics; (spatial concepts and geometry),
• Scientific principles (particularly Physics),
• Design & Technology; (electronics, sensors and actuators), and
• ICT (computer programming).

Working with robots enhances creative problem solving techniques. Based on results seen in Italian high schools, Paolo Fiorini suggests that when robots are used as educational tools “students stop being passive targets of teaching methods and become active learning subjects, showing initiative, independence, and a drastic reduction in their learning time”. When robots are used in the classroom, students usually work in small groups of 2 to 4 students per robot. This encourages the development of basic communication and inter-personal skills. The ability to collaborate and convey complex ideas to a fellow students or colleagues is an important skill that is seen as essential by modern employers.

The use of robots in the classroom subconsciously introduces students to possible career paths they may well have never considered. Engineering principles, such as electrical, mechanical, and chemical, as well as IT skills are required to successfully complete a robotic based project. This is important to ensure the skilled worker shortage that exists, particularly in engineering, is addressed during the years when students are thinking about planning their careers. Robotics is a perfect way to show students that engineering and IT can be fun.