LEGO® Education Academy Tips & Tricks

Storage

  • Label your boxes. Number each box, motors and your robot. This makes identifying and sorting so much easier for both you and student.  Students take ownership of their box.
  • Split up sets into individual parts.  Some schools prefer to create a spares system where all of the same bricks are stored together. Students ‘collect’ their parts from the storage area.
  • Create smaller boxes for smaller models. E.g. The parts for the Domabot, a simple NXT model, can fit into a WeDo box or similar. Saving 75% in space but more importantly reduces build time by having the right elements for the model.
  • Have a spares box / lost and found at the front of the class. When students find a piece that isn’t theirs it gets put in the box at the front. If you have a lost a LEGO piece that box is the first place to look.
  • Give time to packing away. A six year can keep a WeDo box tidy, 5–10 minutes is all that is needed.
  • Have a spares box at the front of the room where students can look if they need a specific piece for their model.

Group Size

  • There is no wrong option just a recommended. Two students per box is great and three can work with careful planning. Just remember there has to be a task for everyone.
  • When contemplating it is important to merge groups to discuss things. Bringing groups together for discussion is really important.
  • With staff training build different models to show scope/diversity of the product across the curriculum. This will give the whole staff the opportunity to see the value of the kit. 20 staff working in pairs on the Machines and Mechanisms will be able to build 10 working models to talk about.

Time Frame

  • Can you book the kit out for a whole day or for an afternoon? Can you book the kit for half a term?
  • If classes need to share kit plan activities that don’t conflict. Can the ICT class keep the driving base whilst the science class just uses the NXT and the resources set?

MINDSTORMS EV3

Using EV3 in the classroom can be a daunting task especially when you have anything up to 20 sets at your disposal. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your kit from teachers and trainers from all over the globe.

  • Rechargeable Battery: Think about having monitors that put the battery on charge after each session. There is nothing worse than running out of juice halfway through a session. 
  • AA batteries: Keep spares in your desk drawer. I used to keep around 20xAA safely hidden away in the event of a battery running out of power. Some people also use rechargeable AA batteries. 

Keeping the kit organised 

People organise their kit in the classroom in many different ways. Here are but just a few:-

  • Labelling kit. If you have more than one kit in your classroom number the kits. That includes the boxes, trays and all the major components such as the programmable brick, sensors, motors etc. 
  • Use the sorting overview try to put pieces correctly in the trays. Some people photocopy that sheet and stick the images in the bottom of each tray section so students can easily sort their LEGO. 
  • Some schools put all the individual pieces in their own containers. Students come and ‘pick’ the items they need. 
  • Other have the exact elements sorted out in smaller boxes. 
  • Pre-build driving bases reduce build time.
  • Have student monitors that on a regular basis take an inventory of the kit. You can then replenish any pieces that have gone missing. 
  • Losing pieces can be a problem. Keep a LEGO elements ‘found’ box at the front of the room. Any pieces found at the end of the session can be put in here. The next class using the kits have a place to go a search for missing components before asking the teacher. 
  • Get students (and yourself) to start learning the terminology of pieces. It helps when identifying pieces. There is an element survey in the software. It’s a PDF that can be printed. 
  • As soon as possible rename your EV3 programmable brick. This will help if you intend to use Bluetooth at a later stage. 
  • Every term consider updating the firmware. This keeps your brick up to date and also deletes all the work the students have downloaded. This is a great way of wiping the brick clean.

WeDo

  • Sort kit the top tray into colours, red, yellow, white/green and small parts. Place sensors, motors, hub and large LEGO parts in bottom of the box.
  • Max and Mia mini figures are the LEGO pieces that ‘disappear’ the most. Check for these at the end of the session. Ask the students to check their boxes and pockets!
  • Point out that the value 10 on the Wait for Block refers to 1 second. Don’t take it for granted the students understand this. Ask them if 10 equals 1 second what does 20 equal? What does 5 equal?
  • Student always use the wrong axle size unless shown the 1:1 scale on the card insert. They can also measure by the number of studs on a LEGO brick.

Machines & Mechanisms

  • Always point out clearly which model the group is building. Don’t take it for granted they have heard the instruction you have given. Remember each build guide has upto 4 models in each book. It is very easy to have one group build two halves of two totally different models.
  • The build guides, once the kit is unpacked, don’t fit into the box! Consider putting them altogether or in folders.

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