FROM alligators to Ferris wheels – over 100 children from across the city have created their own Lego robots in a unique project developed by Mary Immaculate College and Lego Education.
The project was successfully piloted earlier this year when 135 children from eight primary schools around Limerick and Clare were instructed by current bachelor of education students at the city teacher training college. It explores the potential of ICT technologies to develop problem-solving and mathematical thinking in children.
Sarah Cantillon, aged nine, a pupil with the Presentation Primary School on Sexton Street, is among the new experts in the robotics of mechanical Lego.
“You get all the pieces in the box and then you hook the motor up to the computer, and watch it move. You can also do cool sound effects and stuff.
“It was the highlight of every week for us. We used to say ‘Oh my God, it’s Lego time’ because we loved that class. It was amazing,” she said.
Jake Price, 11, from Thomondgate, was similarly engrossed, busy building a giant during a presentation for the launch at the college - except his head had suddenly fallen off.
“I’ve made a plane, a boat, a lion, and now a giant and a crocodile, and I can make it in five minutes now,” said the pupil of St Munchin’s boys school.
However, this is just the first block to be laid in a unique educational programme, as the college plans to set up a Lego Education Innovation Studio on campus, the first of its kind in a college of education anywhere in Europe.
Professor Michael A Hayes, president of the college, said the Lego Innovation studio “marks a significant investment by Mary Immaculate College in equipment, training and the learning environment.
“In recognising the increasingly powerful role that digital technologies can play in boosting teaching and learning across the curriculum at all levels, and in recognising the benefits for the future of the entire country of ensuring that, from a young age, our children can develop a fluency in thinking, working and creating in a digital environment, Mary Immaculate College is proud to be an active and passionate partner in the pursuit of that goal.
Dr René Tristan Lydiksen, managing director of Lego Education Europe, said the studio offers “an inspiring environment for all teachers and especially for teachers in training”.
Bachelor of Education student Darragh O’Connell, who taught the pupils, said this project was “special as it allows students of all abilities and backgrounds to get involved and to be part of a team in an interesting, fun and worthwhile manner”.