LEGO Engineering: From Kindergarten to College

Posted in Conferences, Companies on January 06, 2009



For the past 10 years, Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach has been working with the LEGO Group to bring engineering into every classroom as a way to teach creativity, teamwork, and systems engineering as well as math, science, and literacy. We believe that as the world becomes more technical, and more dependent on technology, it is imperative that those who vote and who make policy understand the fundamentals of science and engineering so that they will make informed decisions on policies like developing a sustainable energy plan or reducing global warming. We do this by bringing engineering into the pre-college classroom and challenging students to design and build solutions to open-ended problems. Chris Rogers will show a number of examples from around the world of how teachers have used LEGO Robots to teach everything from how to graph to how to problem-solve. From LEGO snowplows (made by 1st graders) to automated hamburger makers (made by 13 year olds) to a LEGO robot driven by a fruit fly (made by a doctoral student), students have been excited, innovative, and very enthusiastic to learn. He will conclude by explaining how you can help affect your local school and classroom. Kids (of all ages) welcome.

Speaker: Chris Rogers
Chris got all three of his degrees at Stanford Univ., where he worked with John Eaton on his thesis looking at particle motion in a boundary layer flow. From Stanford, he went to Tufts as a faculty member, where he has been for the last million years, with a few exceptions. His first sabbatical was spent at Harvard and a local kindergarten looking at methods of teaching engineering. He spent half a year in New Zealand on a Fulbright Scholarship looking at 3D reconstruction of flame fronts to estimate heat fluxes. In 2002-3 he was at Princeton as the Kenan Professor of Distinguished Teaching where he played with underwater robots, wind tunnels, and LEGO bricks. In 2006-7, he spent the year at ETH in Zurich playing with very very small robots and measuring the lift force on a fruit fly. He received the 2003 NSF Directors Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award for excellence in both teaching and research. Chris is involved in several different research areas: particle-laden flows (a continuation of his thesis), telerobotics and controls, slurry flows in chemical-mechanical planarization, the engineering of musical instruments, measuring flame shapes of couch fires, measuring fruit-fly locomotion, and in elementary school engineering education. His work has been funded by numerous government organizations and corporations, including the NSF, NASA, Intel, Boeing, Cabot, Steinway, Selmer, National Instruments, Raytheon, Fulbright, and the LEGO Corporation. His work in particle-laden flows led to the opportunity to fly aboard the NASA 0g experimental aircraft. He has flown over 700 parabolas without getting sick.

Chris also has a strong commitment to teaching, and at Tufts has started a number of new directions, including learning robotics with LEGO bricks and learning manufacturing by building musical instruments. He was awarded the Carnegie Professor of the Year in Massachusetts in 1998 and is currently the director of the Center for Engineering Education Outreach (www.ceeo.tufts.edu). His teaching work extends to the elementary school, where he talks with over 1000 teachers around the world every year on ways of bringing engineering into the younger grades. He has worked with LEGO to develop ROBOLAB, a robotic approach to learning science and math. ROBOLAB has already gone into over 50,000 schools worldwide and has been translated into 15 languages. He has been invited to speak on engineering education in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK, and in the US. He works in various classrooms once a week, although he has been banned from recess for making too much noise.

Most importantly, he has three kids - all brilliant - who are responsible for most of his research interests and efforts.

Google Tech Talks
December 19, 2008

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