Children’s Blog

Royal Institution (UK) Christmas Lectures

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Watch online!

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for children and families have been an annual tradition in the UK since 1825, when they were started by Michael Faraday, whom we discussed in our LEGO workshop with the Smart Spinner.

This past year's series was called "Sparks will fly: How to hack your home." The title is a little bit of a misnomer, but the lectures themselves are a lot of fun and quite educational. 

Luckily for us, we can now watch them online at the RI Channel. Pictured above is Prof. Danielle George demonstrating a LEGO robot with a smart phone brain that can solve a Rubik's Cube in under 5 seconds.

The grand finale of this episode features a robot orchestra performing the theme music from "Doctor Who." Another episode culiminates in the transformation of an office building's facade into a giant game of Tetris.

I recommend watching the lectures with the entire family. If you're interested at all in technology and science, the programs are highly inspirational and very entertaining. In fact, anyone who attended the January LEGO workshop will recognize some of the experiments that were directly inspired from this show.

PS. I also recommend browsing around on the Royal Institution website. It's a well-designed site with lots of science, history, and even games. Of particular interest is the companion page to the Christmas Lectures. It'a called Things to Do with Stuff, and features several science projects for kids to do at home with common household items.

 

Teaching Math with LEGOs in the UK

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'With its slogan of “There’s more to maths than facts,” MoreToMaths will, according to Lydiksen, allow teachers to concentrate on “the learning process”. This view is endorsed by Birchfield’s headteacher, Hugh Myott, who sees Lego as boosting his pupils’ creativity and teamwork.'

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/11/lego-maths-education-moretomaths-schools-teachers

LEGO bricks build better mathematicians

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"A study carried out by the University of Derby has found that LEGO plays a vital role in the development of maths skills in children."

Read more at the University of Derby, UK.

 

December Workshop video

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Filmed by the participants:

Our first LEGO Science Workshop

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Our first LEGO Science Workshop was a big success! Our group of 20 enthusiastic budding scientists built and programmed a couple of mechanical dancing birds. In the process, we learned about pulleys, the mechanics of belt drives, crown gears, gearing up and gearing down, and programming logic.

Watch this space for more videos of the event.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services

Scratch

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One of the things we discussed in today's LEGO Science Workshop was the programming language Scratch, which was developed at MIT for teaching easy programming concepts. Many of you may already be familiar with it through your child's school, but just in case you're not, the software is freely available at:
 
 
The LEGO software we use in the workshops is very similar to Scratch in its use of "drag and drop" icons. In fact, one may even use Scratch to program the LEGO WeDo components.
 
If anyone is interested in purchasing a WeDo set for home use, you can find them at the LEGO Education website.