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Extended Learning with Lego Mindstorms

18 February 2018

Lego Robot Printer

Hey hey, we’re all about EXTENDED LEARNING over here! ;)

While it sounds so academically enriching and profoundly challenging, it really just means: kids learning things outside of school, at their own level, at their own pace.

I have to admit that we do these things more as a “desperate attempt to entertain the kids” and “a way to get the kids off their screens” – ha!

In fact, I should have called this post: Cool Shit We Did During The Holidays.

We’ve dabbled in so many things at home over the years: gardening, camping, bush walking, rock collecting, stop motion animations, spheros (programable balls), electronics, carpentry, bicarb explosions, taking apart computers, melting metals… so much more, I can’t even remember.

Anyway, we bought our kids a set of Lego Mindstorms EV3 back in 2013.

My big boys were 10 and 8 years old, and they were obsessed with Lego blocks, so we felt it was a good step up into a whole new world of programming and creative thinking.

Over the years, both my big boys have chosen “Robotics” or “Programming” electives in Primary School, High School and a School Holiday Uni Course for Kids, and we discovered that all the schools use this same system + set.

Because our kids had the set at home, it gave them a head start, plus they were able to tinker, mess around and experiment without a time limit, which I think is really important for creative + fun learning.

They followed all the tutorials and made cars, robots and more. Even a Rubix cube solver!

They are good at it, they were interested in it. But I wouldn’t say they were passionate about it. Oh well.

These days, my kids are 15, 13 and 9.

During the 6 weeks of school holidays just gone, we had to “force” them to do something with the Mindstorms set, because honestly, given a choice, they would prefer to be on their devices, social media and YouTube.

So we enforced a “1 hour each day” rule and told them to make something cool. It could be whatever they wanted.

They just had to show some kind of research, goal, process, planning and creating.

Lego Robot Printer

One of my boys made a printer!

He just found the tutorial on YouTube.

I didn’t see the demo video or his goal, I just saw his planning and thought it’d be stupid (I’m such a supportive mum right?? Haha! Omg typical Asian mum – “Why waste your time?! Do something more ambitious and interesting!!”)

But thankfully my kid has a good level of self confidence and said, “Trust me mum, this will be really cool!”


Lego Robot Printer

Indeed, the result was SUPER cool. Hey, it was freaking mind blowing.

And I did apologise and tell him so.

Anyway, I’m hoping he can make me a coffee machine next.