Stories from the Field

Lessons Learned: Innovative Robotics Learning Using LEGO

Carrie Ziolkowski is a first to fifth grade teacher at Hazelwood School District’s Galactic Gifted Program in Florissant, Missouri. She received an NEA Foundation Student Achievement grant to make STEM learning come to life using the LEGO WeDo 2.0 kits in the classroom. The LEGO kits introduce students to the world of engineering through tinkering and exploration, and allow them to gain valuable experience in coding and programming! Here’s what Carrie had to say about her project and its impact.


Students use the LEGO WeDo kits to learn about coding and programming!

Tell us a little about your project.

With my NEA Foundation Student Achievement grant, I extended the STEM/robotics classes to more students in the 1st and 2nd grade by purchasing LEGO WeDo 2.0 kits. I introduced our 2nd grade engineering class to all WeDo 2.0 technology. That’s 66 students in the past year gaining access to the newest LEGO technology. I also shared our existing WeDo first generation kits with 1st grade students, creating a brand new engineering class experience for them. In 2016 - 2017 and 2017 - 2018, 64 1st grade students were able to take a LEGO engineering class, in addition to the LEGO engineering classes at the 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade levels!

What do you and your students like the most about the project?

I like that the LEGO WeDo 2.0 kits give students a chance to work through challenges in building and coding in a fun and interactive way. Students are naturally motivated to get their models to work. It’s great to watch my students make mistakes and learn from them.  The LEGO WeDo 2.0 encourages students to persevere when things get difficult.  

My students say that they love the building and coding. They love when their robot/model comes to life and does what they want it to do!  They take charge of their own learning and use the materials to record and share their learning through their WeDo 2.0 journals.

What were the measurable goals for this project?

The goals were to increase critical thinking scores by having my students ask essential questions, create a plan, evaluate ideas, and justify their thinking using strong and meaningful evidence. 

What is the most successful and impactful part of this project?

My students were able to experience new technology and have the time to explore and play with their learning. Students learn a great deal by tinkering, exploring, trying, failing, and adapting. The LEGO WeDo 2.0 materials are perfect for letting students learn in this manner.

Have an idea to improve student learning? Apply for an NEA Foundation grant of your very own! The application deadlines for Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grants are February 1, June 1, and October 15. For help developing your proposal, be sure to check out our grant writing tutorial.

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