LEGO Ed and FIRST Launch League for Younger Students
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Two STEM education organizations have committed to reaching some of the youngest learners. LEGO Education and FIRST launched a new program for four- to -six-year-olds. The FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition will invite teams of four children to build a solution to a given challenge using LEGO DUPLO pieces. The goals are to help them gain confidence, begin to develop skills for facing future challenges and discover the fun of learning.
During this first year, that league, along with the FIRST LEGO League Jr. (for students ages 6-10) and FIRST LEGO League (for students ages 9 to 16), will push students to explore topics related to architecture, infrastructure and sustainability of future cities.
FIRST worked with experts in architecture, civil engineering, infrastructure, sustainability and urban planning to create the theme and develop "challenge missions" that reflect what it takes to design and construct practical, sustainable and beautiful buildings and spaces catering to diverse needs. For FIRST LEGO League Jr., the mission is called "Boomtown Build," and for FIRST LEGO League, it's "City Shaper."
In Boomtown Build teams of up to six kids will work through 12 guided sessions in their "engineering notebooks," to learn the principles of design and basic STEM concepts from Boomtown residents, "May" and "Marco." Teams will use LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 to build and program a model that moves and in the process pick up engineering and programming concepts. They'll also illustrate their research through a "show me" poster.
For "City Shaper," teams of up to 10 students will choose and solve a real-world problem in an open-ended project. As part of that, they'll build, test and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS components to solve a series of architecture-themed missions as part of a robot game, which will include constructing housing units, improving infrastructure and setting up accessible playgrounds, among other activities.
"No one can predict what the workplace will look like years from now, but we can prepare children today for this uncertainty by developing the skillset they will need," said Esben Stærk Jørgensen, president of LEGO Education, in a statement. "Programs like FIRST LEGO League foster collaboration, resilience and a comfort with STEAM subjects, including coding and robotics. With the addition of FIRST LEGO League Discovery Edition, students at the earliest of ages now have an opportunity to explore and build their confidence in learning from the very beginning."
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.