LEGO updates their robotics lineup for juniors

LEGO have done a great job over the last few years by providing students and teachers with the tools to create some really innovative robotics opportunities in the classroom.

Lego Mindstorms EV3 got an overhaul a few years back which kept it relevant for kids aged 12 and up, but their junior range of robotics known as WE-DO was a little uninspiring for younger kids who expected a little more from a product classified as a robotics tool.

This year at CES LEGO unveiled WE-DO 2.0 which allows for for a far more complex range of programming options, all new teaching resources and connectivity with all major wireless devices such as the iPad.

Best of all it is cheaper and has a LOT less parts than EV3 which is important when this equipment is being shared by hundreds of kids.

We-Do 2.0 now offers a logical programming experience that can be translated to from skills learnt on popular platforms such as scratch and Tynker.

Check out the videos and links below for more information.

LEGO WeDo 2.0 resources

Lego WeDo Bit by Brick programming platform

5 great sites to get your head around computational thinking

This eBook is a great starting point for teachers looking to get started with computational thinking, coding and robotics. Click image to access.

This eBook is a great starting point for teachers looking to get started with computational thinking, coding and robotics. Click image to access.

This year I have been doing a great deal of research around understanding computational thinking, coding and robotics as it becomes a mandatory element of the Australian Curriculum in 2017.

I really feel this to be a huge step in the right direction for our students as Australia's economy is currently built upon unsustainable mining practices which leaves our best and brightest to head overseas as to pursue successful careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Throughout this process I have struggled at times to find some worthwhile resources for teachers but at the same time uncovered a few diamonds among the rough that I highly recommend.  They are as follows.

Teaching London Computing - Has some fun activities for teachers to pick up and run with straight away that effectively reinforce the concepts of computational thinking and computer science to the average Joe.  Regulatory updated also.

CSER Digital Technologies MOOC.  - This is by far and away the most concise resource I have encountered.  A completely free unit from the University of Adelaide with hundreds of participants sharing ideas and insights.  It will take you a few weeks to get through but incredibly thorough.  It is aimed at an Aussie audience but is by far and away the best I have encountered globally.

CS Unplugged - Tim Bell has put together an incredible collection of activities for budding computer scientists and computational thinkers.  Just one catch though.  You don't use a computer to do any of them which I love.  Excellent for those who are a little scared by screens and keyboards.

Computational Thinking for Educators - Google's free mini course on computational thinking  is short but sweet.  In theory you could polish this off in a few hours but there is much to explore and flesh out beyond that.  A great starting point. 

Code.org - Whilst code.org is probably the largest of all of these resources and definitely a must visit for any budding teacher or student looking for ideas in this space it's purpose is a little less defined than all the others on this list.  Or at least I felt so.  Certainly heaps here for coders in particular but go in with an end goal.

If you are aware of any others I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

iOS Apps on the iPad to support Coding and Robotics

A must see resource for coding and robotics in the classroom.

A must see resource for coding and robotics in the classroom.

The iPad is a great tool for coding.  Particularly for developing the skills and concepts in the junior years around directional language, understanding sprites and developing the building blocks of coding before moving onto traditional desktop coding software.

Here is a list of great apps on the iPad to assist coding and robotics in the classroom.  If you would like to learn a great deal more about coding and robotics in the classroom I an strongly recommend getting a copy of this excellent eBook.

Hopscotch   A visual programming tool for year 3 - 7 Students

Tynker Edu  Video game and puzzle creation tool for year 5 - 9 students

ScratchJr A visual programming tool for juniors for P - 2 Students

My Robot Friend A Problem Solving and Logic Skills Game for P - 6 Students

Codeacademy Code Hour Learn how to build things through coding. Various ability and challenge forTeachers / Students

The Foos Learn to code for an hour game forP - 2 students

Treehouse:  Learn Programming and Design Various resources to learn coding and design for Year 7 - 12 Students

Move the Turtle A variation on the classic BASIC programming skills from the 80’s for year 3 - 5 Students

Kodable A game introducing coding and problem solving skills for year P - 2 Students

Cato’s Hike a programming and logic odyssey. A friendly game for juniors intended to introduce coding and logic for year P - 4 Students.

Codea Kind of like Garage band for Coding.  More complex than anything else here but more rewarding and great tutorials and support for year 5 - 12 Students

Gamepress  Great tool for video game creation on the iPad.  Share your creations with peers also for year 5 - 9 students

Hyperpad Built on Gamepress platform but you need to create everything yourself.  You can actually export apps to iTunes store from Hyperpad.  Quite open ended. for year 7 - 12 students