LEGO® Teaching Revised by Patrick McShane 03-15-2009 Note: The Unix had no spell checker. LEGO® Teaching!
I will count this as "Lesson Zero" because I want to emphasize the "constructive nature" of LEGO bricks! I was going through some old files and found the following document written by Pat McShane, the grizzled founder of the school. I agree wholeheartedly with these notes, and in the years I have been teaching and playing in the PCS Engineering Lab I can add to it...one of the goals of this web site! I reprint it here as a record to the vision of the school's founder and to the power of our teaching philosophy...read and enjoy!
LEGO® bricks as a FUNCTION of...
by Pat McShane
Printed May 9 1991, all spelling and grammatical errors are his! Note: Some minor alterations to the original text have taken place to protect the LEGO® trademark.
LEGO® products are a marvelous method of enriching an interdisciplinary curriculum. When LEGO® products are introduced into an educational environment one or more of the following functions will always be present and active. I maintain that there isn't a single field of study that LEGO® products can't be used to enhance the Learning Process. LEGO® products as a Function of Anthropology... (a) Homo Faber ( Man the Designer ) ( Man the Maker ) (b) The Irresistible Invitation to Create. It is impossible to keep your hands off a pile of LEGO® products. (c) Play is the WORK of Children...All higher-level animal young develop life skills through PLAY. He who plays best, survives longest! Yet man-the-adult denigrates Child-Play. Man is the only animal that tries to teach its young by LECTURE...The man-child who can learn by PLAY ( hands-on experiences ) becomes a better adult. LEGO® products as a Function of Art... (a) Abstract Designs (b) Kinetic Artwork (c) Use of color, shape, size, proportion, symmetry. (d) When a Model 'speaks' to the designer it is completed. LEGO® products as a Function of Biology... (a) Form Follows Function ( Rule of 'Mother Nature' ) (b) Six-Legged Walker ( Study of Insect Movement ) (c) Arachnid Walker ( Study of Spider Movement ) (d) The Paranoid Robot Insect Project ( Insect Brain ) (e) DNA Modeling LEGO® products as a Function of Challenge... (a) Build a Machine, entirely of LEGO® Elements, that can pull a 2000 pound
vehicle. (b) Build a model of an ancient Chinese roof that will support the total body weight of the builder and then calculate the weight distribution throughout the model. LEGO® products as a Function of Communications... (a) Verbal Communication. Note: Verbal descriptions of a LEGO® element by type ( brick, beam, plate, etc ), dimensions ( size....2x4 brick etc ), color, function ( what it DOES ), assembly Q & A (b) Written Communication. With LEGO®-LOGO applications ( spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax )...if it isn't absolutely correct it won't run! (c) Giving and getting information and instructions. (d) Deaf Building ( Signing with the American Manual Alphabet ). (e) Share your respect for accuracy and the clear and concise use of the English Language! LEGO® products as a Function of Death... Yes there is a life after disassembly! Students who cling tenaciously to "No Disassemble" need to be handled with generous doses of TLC. Why disassemble? Disassembly is a NEGATIVE ACT...It must be made a positive activity! (a) Recycle Parts (b) Share parts with another student who may need a part that is in your project. (c) Build something different, something new, something better. LEGO® products as a Function of Design...( Building ) (a) Structure (b) Symmetry (c) Scale (d) Stress LEGO® products as a Function of Applied History... (a) Modeling Ancient Structures ( History of Architecture ) (b) Modeling Ancient Machines (History of Machines ) (c) Modeling Leonardo's Inventions ( Or maybe Buckminster Fuller's???-R ) (d) Modeling Stonehenge (e) Modeling the Inventions of al-Jazari ( See Scientific American May 1991, National Geographic May 1991 ) Note...this use of LEGO® products is a very rich and exciting way to study History. Start with the machines of an era/nation and then research into the reasons for such inventions. LEGO® products as a Function of Idea ware... (a) Professional Idea ware---With LEGO® Kits come plans and plans provide a rich source for insight and new ideas. (b) Shareware or Freeware Ideas---Someone builds and is willing to share his ideas with others. (c) Cripple ware Ideas---Someone shares only certain parts of his project and jealously guards other.
(d) Deamware Ideas---Someone makes something and you are expected to figure it out for yourself. (e) Crudware Ideas---Someone makes something and you decide that it is not something you can use. Note--- Idea Shoppers can be recognized quite easily by the questions they ask: How did you do that? How does this work? What does this do? Why did you put that there? LEGO® products as a Function of Infinity... There is an infinite number of possible combinations when building with LEGO® products because the primary ingredient, a child's creative imagination is infinite... LEGO® products as a Function of Learning... Reflecting on the world about them... 'How things work' 'How things look' 'How I fit into the picture' LEGO® products as a Function of Applied Mathematics... (a) Gear Ratios ( + - * / ) Gear Relationships (b) Building to Scale (c) Geometry ( Euclid's Cube ) (d) Young Children: LEGO® Number & Math Function Bricks (e) Algebraic Expressions ( Effort Formula for Levers ) (f) Number Systems: Base Two, Base Eight, Base Ten ) (g) Differential Adding Machine ( +/- Integers ) LEGO® products as a Function of Measurement... (a) Fabricated to Metric Standards. (b) Weights ( Mass ) 54 grams Note: Scientists around the world use the Metric System and so should we. PCS also uses 24 hour clocks instead of the A.M. and P.M. Standard. LEGO® products as a Function of Need...( MacGivorism ) (a) Holographic Table (b) Acid-bath Shaker (c) Accurate Computer Plotter (d) Laser Mirror Spinner (e) Doorstop Wedges LEGO® products as a Function of Organizational Skills... (a) Sorting ( Classifications ) (b) Organization of Elements (c) Data Base Management ( DBM ) LEGO® products as a Function of Applied Physics... (a) Levers
(b) "Bopping' Bob" (c) Mechanical Advantage (d) Pulleys (e) Scales---Roberval Enigma (f) States of Energy----potential & Kinetic----Flywheel LEGO® products as a Function of Child Psychology... (a) Reality Therapy ( See Dr William Glasser ) (b) Play Therapy (c) Control Therapy LEGO® products as a Function of Interpersonal Relationships... (a) Teamwork (b) Sharing (c) Communications (d) Caring (e) Brainstorming (f) Feelings ( Self and Others ) Note: ADULT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS.... Too often we deal with children in a manner that makes light of their world. We try to bring/drag kids into the Adult World..."Grow up, quit acting like a child." When we treat with disrespect the very world that a child cherishes we negate the child. True teaching requires that we 'ask' to become a part of THEIR WORLD. LEGO® products make this asking/granting activity quite easy...When a child sees a 'significant adult' loving the act of 'playing with LEGO® products,' the child readily accepts that adult into their world. That adult has DEMONSTRATED that he/she sees value in a part of their world and in fact, takes a part of the child's world into their adult world! It becomes very easy thereafter, for that adult to relate a part of the Adult World THROUGH the understandings of the Child World. Both parties to this activity come away winners. The child has been respected and valued by that 'significant adult.' The adult has been able to share something of his/her world with the child, thus perpetuating the educational/learning process. For this reason, my Unix email signature reads: Patrick McShane...LEGO® Maniac I'm NOT Old...I'm Just a Recycled Kid! LEGO® products as a Function of Self Affirmation... Observe a child's YES ( gesture ) as a project just completed...Nothing more needs to be said except that in such situations a child will build his own Self-Esteem as long as he has affirmation from at least one 'significant other.' Teachers should not praise the child directly but rather praise the child's project. It is through the project that the child is affirmed. LEGO® products as a Function of Sodium Pentathlon ( Truth Serum )... When two or more students are building with LEGO® products, a flood of conversation is released. Sometimes it is idle chatter but for the most part a careful listener can learn more about their lives in one hour than a counselor can learn in
several probing sessions. Listen to what the children are REALLY saying. LEGO® products as a Function of System Integration... (a) Mechanical Engineering (b) Computer Programming ( Logo ) (c) Micro-Robotics (d) Micro-Robotics + Personal Science Lab or AcuLab (e) Technology Education LEGO® products as a Function of Thigmotactics... 'Personal Space' barriers come down. This is a natural response to sharing on a deeper level. LEGO® products are the Great Equalizer. LEGO® products as a Function of Symbolic Logic... (a) Conversion of binary numbers to gray numbers to solve the Chinese Rings Puzzle or the 'spinout' puzzle. (b) Teaching the following LOGIC GATES: AND, OR, NOR, NOT NAND and the creation of the related TRUTH TABLES. LEGO® products as a Function of Effecting Change... Dare a man to say "I'm too young!" PCS discoveries include the PCS Differential and the Exploding Space Shuttle. LEGO® products as a Function of Dreaming... When kids are building, especially 'out of their minds,' they are dreaming dreams and making them 'real' and alive through their LEGO® models. LEGO® products as a Function of Geology... (a) Plate Tectonics (b) Topology and Land Formations LEGO® products as a Function of Chemistry Molecular Modeling
Patrick McSha ne
Digitally signed by Patrick McShane DN: cn=Patrick McShane, o=PCS Centers for Enhanced Learning, ou=Headmaster, email=mcshane.patrick9 @gmail.com, c=US Date: 2009.03.06 14:09:29 -07'00'
I understand that this philosophy remains at the very heart of the PCS Manipulation and Engineering Labs and Robotic Programs. After 25 years it is just as true today as it was then and I believe that it will remain unchanged for many more years. I do hope that someone, more intelligent than I am, will take this philosophy and expand upon what I have started. I invite someone to take that challenge and run with it…Patrick McShane