Kent State Researchers Use LEGO Camps to Build Relationships With the Community
A special classroom at Kent State University turned into a LEGO® city filled with roaring lions, speeding cars and spinning tops.
The moving creations are part of a unique summer camp, LEGO WeDo™ Robotics, put on by the Research Center for Educational Technology in the College of Education, Health and Human Services.
It is one of many technology-based camps that the center offers as part of the Kent State’s commitment to reaching out and serving the community.
Click here to watch a video on the camp.
During the school year, researchers at the center use a two-way mirror to study the effects of digital tools in the classroom. They take what they learn and apply it to the summer camps.
“It’s just amazing to see what the children are able to develop with these tools and what it’s able to spark in them in regards to understanding some really key concepts related to programming and coding,” said Annette Kratcoski, Ph.D., professor and director at Kent State’s Research Center for Educational Technology.
Students start by building a LEGO model of their choice. Then, they are introduced to robotics software used to learn a coding procedure, which allows them to drag and drop commands to move their model.
A simple USB cord connects the model to the computer. With the push of a button, the LEGO character wakes up and comes to life.
“I like programming the LEGOS to do different things and making them make sounds,” said 7-year-old student Emily Wrobel. “Before I came to this camp, I never knew LEGOS could be alive.”
“It’s surprising and exciting to see that LEGOS do things,” said student Sarah Jalli, who is 9 years old.
Besides having fun, the students are also learning physics, math, grids, angles and sequencing. They just do not know it.
“As they’re sharing and talking with their friends, they’re using terms like, ‘my tilt sensor’ and ‘this motor’ and ‘this gear’ is making the model move,” Kratcoski said.
For the students, it is a chance to take their creativity and digital skills to new levels.
For researchers, it is a way to take their data and share it with the community.
“We call it our bonding time,” Kratcoski said. “It brings us closer to our own faculty and staff and also with our community.”
The next LEGOS WeDo Robotics camp begins on July 20, 2015.
For more information about Student Technology Camps at Kent State’s Research Center for Educational Technology, visit www.kent.edu/rcet/student-technology-camps.
For more information about the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/rcet.
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