OACS News Service
Heritage brought in the program through First Lego League, which now has 20,000 plus teams in more than 70 countries.
The school was interested in the program as an engaging way to learn science, technology and 21st century skills such as collaboration and presentation.
First Lego League engages students to work with Lego to address a real-world challenge. The challenge for this year entailed coming up with ways to improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities.
“It was very beneficial in so many different ways,” Vanderkloet says of the Lego robotics program.
Heritage students, for instance, connected with seniors as they researched for the project, interviewing them beforehand and later presenting what they had created.
But it was the opportunity to boost their skills in working together as a group that Vanderkloet says she found so advantageous.
The work sessions can be quite long and as time progresses, Vanderkloet found, the teams would often start to break down, with arguments ensuing.
Under her guidance, the groups started incorporating team-building activities into each session.
They also talked about why they were breaking down, when this seemed to happen and what they could do in response.
Circle times were introduced as an intervention. At certain points, the group would stop and talk together; team members shared what they thought, how they felt, why they were getting angry and what to do next.
Learning these skills and working according to certain values is emphasized by First Lego League, with teams being rated in competitions on what how well they can talk about what they’ve learned in that respect. The competing Heritage teams placed well in the values category.
Heritage Community Christian School students competed in the Kingston regional robotics contest last December. One team placed well enough to move on to the Provincial East Robotics Competition at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa in January. They came home with a trophy for best project research.
Heritage will be offering the First Lego League program again next year. The theme is nature’s fury and will see children from around the world explore storms, quakes, waves and other natural disasters, discovering what can be done when “intense natural events meet the places people live, work, and play,” according to the First Lego League website.You can comment on this story by e-mailing michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.
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