maijamBy Maija McLaughlin, Director of Digital Access, Fayetteville Free Library

Since January of this year, the Fayetteville Free Library has been running a monthly Lego WeDo program for children K-2nd.    For several years, the library has facilitated programs for teens and middle schoolers utilizing Lego robotics platforms such Lego MindStorm.  Our savvy patrons and parents asked “Is there Lego robotics programming for younger children?”  Enter Lego WeDo.  WeDo is a lego robotics kit which can make 9 different robots.  The robots include an alligator, a drumming gorilla, a man in a boat, a lion and the list goes on.  Once the children have built these robots the fun continues.  Children will utilize the lego software to create code to make the robot make a sound and/or move.

We started in January with 6 kits.  The monthly program was limited to 12 children with the idea that 2 children would share and take turns building with the kit and coding on the laptop.  We started the program just having learned how to use Lego Wedo ourselves.   For each session we would get together prior to the program and run through a complete build of the robot and what the coding will look like.  This is essential!  We are so lucky to have two librarians start the program with the assistance of a teen volunteer.  Our teen volunteer, Emily is awesome and knows just how to provide instruction to the K-2nd participants.

By March, we realized the program was in such high demand we had to think of something to provide more Lego WeDo programming.  A great team effort brought two more librarians to help with Lego WeDo programs and the decision was made to purchase 6 more kits.  This doubled our participant number so we could open the program to 24.    In April we ran an additional program during spring break to offer a chance for those who had not been able to get in the program prior to our expanding.

A typical program has two children sharing a kit.  We try to put children of the same grade togeLegoWedother.  Recently we purchased some trays to contain the lego pieces that little fingers sometimes have trouble with.  We have them sit in front a big screen where instructions appear to build the project.  We go at their pace and do not continue until everyone has accomplished what is shown on the screen.  We are also still learning the appropriate names for lego pieces.  We learn something new every program!  After everyone has finished building the robot, we pass out a laptop to each pair.  The coding portion happens here.  Lego software provides a coding platform with drag and drop icons.  Once the project is complete, you will have a roaring lion or a drumming gorilla.  The children love to guess what we are going to build at the beginning of each program.

We have learned so much from running these programs.  It is exciting to see the children gain skills and confidence using robots and a coding software program.  If you get the opportunity, you should use robotics and coding to teach K-2nd.  The students will have fun while learning about physics, technology, and engineering!