Media advisory: Using LEGOS as a teaching tool

K-12 educators to build robots with LEGOs to help engage students in learning science, technology, engineering, math

What: Educators from across St. Louis will build and test robots using LEGOs as they explore teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in grades K-12. They will share strategies for using the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, which can turn the building toys into programmable robots. These robots are used in the popular FIRST LEGO League and Robotics competitions, which reached more than 210,000 K-12 students in 57 countries in 2010-11.

Who: More than 75 local educators, along with science educators from Washington University and program staff from Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. Sponsors include LEGO Education, the Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition, and WUSTL Science Outreach and School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Where: Washington University’s Whitaker Hall (near the intersection of Forest Park Parkway and Hoyt Drive, which is one block west of Skinker Boulevard). From Forest Park Parkway, enter the Danforth Campus at Hoyt Drive. Turn at first left (east) into parking lot.

When: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2011. Good photo opportunities 11 a.m.-noon

Why: Teachers can build on kids’ fascination with LEGOs to engage their students in learning science, technology, engineering and math. Using LEGO and engineering curriculum, students develop their creativity and collaboration skills. They also get a taste of how STEM professionals build, test and refine structures, tools and machines. Students who become involved in FIRST gain valuable skills and enroll in engineering undergraduate programs more frequently than their peers.

“Hands-on activities can build skills and excite young people about science, technology, engineering and math,” says Ralph S. Quatrano, PhD, dean of WUSTL’s School of Engineering & Applied Science. “Many engineers discovered their interest in engineering by designing, fixing or building something at a young age. We hope this conference encourages more K-12 teachers to use activities like LEGOs to motivate and inspire students about STEM subjects and careers.”