MacICT’s lead robotics facilitator, John Burfoot, was invited to attend the LEGO Education Elementary Conference and also present at the LEGO Education Engineering Conference in San Diego, last month. The two events were sponsored by LEGO Education and the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (Tufts CEEO), Boston.
Elementary, Middle and High School teachers from Southern California attended the two events, which were hosted by High Tech High, Chula Vista – an innovative and progressive K-12 school located near the California/Mexico border.
Prior to the actual conference, John collaborated with a small group of other robotics educators from around the world in an “EV3 Hackathon” hosted at LEGOLAND, San Diego. This small group of LEGO Engineering Design Group Educators (aka the EDGE), had the opportunity to finally meet one another, off-line, and contribute to a brainstorming session of building and programming an intelligent urban network using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots.
John has been a founding EDGE member and regular contributor to their website (legoengineering.com), which offers support for teachers getting started into LEGO robotics, as well as providing big ideas and inspiration for schools wishing to take educational robotics to the next level.
The LEGO Engineering site is also the brainchild of Tufts CEEO, who are renowned for their pedagogical approach in implementing early engineering principles and open-ended challenges with students that foster divergent, creative solutions to real-world problems. MacICT shares a similar philosophy of 21st Century Learning and student-led teaching practises.
John’s ‘TED-style’ talk and follow-up workshop (“Naked EV3 projects: Games of chance and other random adventures”), explored advanced programming elements that exploit the concept of mystery and surprise to create entertaining hand-held games of chance. John highlighted there are many ways to program random and chance events using just the LEGO EV3 brick and its software that also meet curriculum outcomes for students, while being loads of fun and highly satisfying – even when problem solving!
The conference included many new and current learning initiatives and themes within the USA, such as:
• Laser Cutter with 2nd Graders
• Elementary Science: Listening to Student Thinking
• Literacy and Engineering
• Maker Spaces in Elementary School
• 3D Printing Unique LEGO Pieces
• Community-Based Maker Space: Working with Schools
• The Curiosity Wall: What happens when students choose what they want to learn?
John gained useful and valuable information around these ideas, while also affirming the work that MacICT are currently doing, and the courses offered to NSW students and teachers, around the implementation of cutting-edge ICT and modern pedagogical practices.