The Lego Education Innovation Studio is enabling Dublin City University (DCU) to create a world-class interactive maker-space learning hub by combining hi-tech pedagogy with the hi-tech affordances of Lego. This hub is helping to ensure that DCU’s student teachers and Irish schools more widely develop innovative and creative approaches to teaching STEAM subjects in the classroom. Thus, the innovation, which is the first of its type in Ireland, builds on DCU’s longstanding reputation for innovation in this key area and has the potential through its ‘Hands-on Minds-on’ approach to influence thousands of students over the next few years.
This innovative project has two main aims: (i) to translate contemporary thinking and the recommendations of recent high-level Government reports about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (STEM) into innovative and impactful classroom practice; and, (ii) to develop 21st Century skills, including a renewed emphasis on “The Arts” (i.e., Design), through new transformative models of teaching and learning which embed digital technologies in authentic, meaningful and problem-solving experiences.
The Lego Education Innovation Studio has the mission of helping to prepare a new generation of teachers and learners who are curious, capable and confident of engaging with different types of technologies which surround them everyday. Beyond promoting greater engagement the initiative has the goal of developing an ethos or mindset of being a future-maker—encapsulated in the strapline of “Let’s Build” which features prominently on the wall of the Studio. The theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the innovation are captured in the following defining statements, which also appear around the walls.
The innovation is being implemented across several key groups. Firstly, Lego Education Innovation Studio the has been embedded in all of the Institute of Education’s Digital Learning and Science and Technology Education programmes. Secondly, there is a focus on working with practising teachers as part of their continuing professional learning programmes. Thirdly, with support from Science Foundation Ireland, the Studio is being used to host a range of events, including an annual Lego League Jr. Expo and a groundbreaking programme in partnership with Irish Girl Guides to promote and spark an interest and lifelong passion in STEAM related subjects and careers.
The Lego Education Innovation Studio has attracted considerable media interest and is being used extensively by student teachers, practising teachers for their professional learning in the teaching of STEAM related subjects and by a range of community groups. For example, in 2017 the Studio hosted:
The major lesson from the Lego Education Innovation Studio is the importance of adopting a ‘Hands-on Minds-on’ approach to the development of 21st Century skills. The real strength of the innovation is the way it develops curious mindsets and an attitide of “let’s build it” by bringing alive STEAM-related activities through authentic, meaningful and problem-based learning experiences.
The Lego Education Innovation Studio challenges traditional ways of teaching STEM-related subjects by providing engaging learning experiences that go beyond the textbook. It also authentically embeds “The Arts” and design thinking in STEM subjects through a hi-tech a maker-space which 'walks the talk' of new innovative models of teaching and learning.