LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 and STEM Learning
By Nick Acton
STEM learning is a hot topic at the moment. The four educational disciplines known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics have never been so important. No one can deny that technology has had a profound effect on our lives. The way we work, communicate, procrastinate and organise ourselves has changed. A child needs to engross themselves in technology in order to simply function in today’s world.
However, children need to go one step further. Not only do they need to understand how to use technology, they also have to know how it all works. Ultimately, teachers are preparing learners for jobs that don’t even exist yet. This is where Science, Engineering and Mathematics come in. We cannot predict technological developments or how this will affect the jobs of the future. All we can do is equip children with the tools that make up the foundation of innovation. That foundation is STEM.
LEGO® Education have managed to produce a product that has an impact on all four areas. That product is called LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 and is available in a handy two person kit. Before jumping in to how one kit can have bearing on four different educational areas, I suppose I should explain what EV3 is… A LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 kit enables children to build and programme their own engineered robot that can roam, lift, seek, follow, detect and react. With the help of intelligent sensors and robust motors a child can use the Programming Application (available on a whole host of devices) to solve simple or complex tasks.
So essentially you have a physical construction that can be programmed by the app. It sounds simple but the educational worth is huge. I will now explain how just one kit can encompass the holistic goals of STEM. However, I won’t necessarily stick to the order that the acronym suggests…
Engineering seems like the best place to start. After all we are talking about LEGO. The blocks are ultimately made for building. The ethos behind constructing an EV3 robot is no different. The kit comes with an instruction manual that guides children through the building of certain robots. These step-by-step guides have an obvious link to engineering. The logical steps represent the core of what engineering is all about.
SCIENCE & MATHEMATICSBoth science and mathematics are intrinsically linked with all aspects of an EV3 kit. The two go hand in hand. It doesn’t take long for a child to start using their mathematical knowledge as they begin to build an EV3 robot. Measurements and counting are just two aspects of numeracy that a child will have to utilise when following the instructions. The strength of the materials and a knowledge of construction is inherently scientific.
However, the programming side of an EV3 kit is where most of the maths and science is seen. Understanding rotations and degrees are both essential when programming movements.
My own personal experiences with EV3 have taught me that the teaching side of things is extremely simple. Children will automatically engage with LEGO and will build happily with very little instruction from you. Likewise, the programming application is very intuitive. The whole set up supports play-based learning. Exploration is the real key to unlocking an EV3 robot’s power. Curiosity will help children engineer weird and wonderful creations. Determination enables a learner to master programming. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are all undeniably important within education but a LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 kit can potentially do more. It can help children to master even more important life skills.
About Nick Acton
Nick Acton is a Trainer Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed education technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice.
If you liked this article, discover 10 reasons why MINDSTORMS® is the right choice for programmers, or check out or STEM blog section!