Case Study – Lego WeDo : May 2016
Seymour Park Community Primary School, Old Trafford borrowed 5 Lego WeDo kits for approximately 8 weeks from the University of Manchester. They were initially used by our Lego Club, which is held over two lunchtimes each week (30 children aged 7 - 10 yrs).
Teachers in Years 3, 4 and 5 also had a few sessions using them with their classes. In addition to this, our SSC (small specialist class) borrowed the kits for one session. We were able to cover objectives across many curriculum areas including Computing, Science and Engineering whilst children also developed their problem solving and social skills.
We found the WeDo kits to be a fantastic resource and they were incredibly engaging for the children. Children in all the age groups involved were able to work independently to build a range of standard models from the software in small groups of 2 or 3. The only exception to this was the SSC children, who required adult support at this level.
In our experience, it was most effective to utilise 3 or 4 WeDo kits at a time whilst the other children were allowed “free building” time with ordinary Lego. This gave teachers and other supporting adults the freedom to help children with the programming of completed models as this was more complex for the children to attempt unaided initially, especially in Year 3. However, not all teachers were confident in doing this by themselves and did not find the software intuitive to use. To address this I created some “Lego Ambassador” roles for a small group of children from Lego Club; once they had become well acquainted with the kits and software. They were on-call to support teachers, as and when needed, who then became more willing to use the kits with their classes. The self-esteem of these children also increased as a result of their responsibilities.
Teachers reported that that they valued the support of the Lego Ambassadors. Other feedback was that the children needed a sustained period of time in order to engage with the WeDo kits and explore the programming fully, which was not always available. Despite this, all teachers were astounded at the amount of children “on task” and engaged whilst using the Lego WeDo. The children said that they really enjoyed using them and liked programming them in different ways. This was also evident when observing the children.
As we had a limited, small amount of WeDo sets, with timetabled slots of one or two hours, it was difficult for individual classes to gain momentum and fully explore other models or complex programming outside of the standard builds. I was sometimes able to keep kits built between Lego Clubs to allow the children to start programming straight away, so they were explored more successfully in an extra-curricular context. Managing the resources was quite arduous as regular piece counts and inventories were needed in order to keep the boxes fully stocked and in order.
We have since bought one kit of our own, and are now keen to invest in some more, for permanent use. I anticipate that, when we have more WeDo sets available, teachers will require more training about the specific objectives they can cover with each mode, in addition to guide lesson plans/ideas in order to promote their use effectively. My understanding is that the Lego WeDo 2.0 sets include this in the new software.
There are numerous tweets / photographs of our children building and programming with them using #ttrp2 by @melectra and @SeymourParkCPS
Huge thanks to the staff and pupils of Seymour Park Community Primary School for sharing their fantastic Lego Wedo projects with us!