A year after the original announcement, DCU’s partnership with the Lego Foundation has finally come to full fruition.
Dublin City University (DCU)’s Lego Education Innovation Studio (LEIS) was officially launched today (21 February), 13 months after the plans first came to light.
Situated on DCU’s St Patrick’s Campus in Drumcondra, the studio will act as a learning hub to help student teachers and Irish schools develop fresh approaches to teaching STEM in classrooms.
Prof Deirdre Butler, DCU’s head of digital learning, claims a “hugely successful pilot programme” has led to this official opening, with the studio acting as part of a broader plan to promote STEM subjects throughout the education system.
“These innovative learning techniques have been embedded in all our digital learning and science education programmes, creating a team of Lego Education champions in DCU’s student teachers,” she said.
“Our added focus on practising teachers’ professional learning programmes will allow us to significantly build the scale and impact of these learning tools.”
To complement the launch, a programme of annual events for learners of all ages was announced, beginning with the Lego League Jr Leinster and Munster competitions.
Acting as two separate geographical challenges, competitors (aged 6-10) research a wild animal and its habitat, essentially investigating the various challenges these creatures face. They then demonstrate their understanding of these findings by building a motorised Lego model based on their case study.
Leinster and Munster competitions are the precursor to events elsewhere in the country, with Science Foundation Ireland supporting the eventual expansion to post-primary schools.
Prof Brian MacCraith, president of DCU, said his university wants to remain “at the vanguard of innovations”.
“We are very excited about the studio’s ambitious ideas for teaching practices, research and outreach that will stimulate strong engagement with STEM subjects. Initiatives such as the LEGO League Jr Challenge ignite a lifelong passion for STEM subjects within our children at a very formative age.”
DCU recently strengthened its relationship with Intel, again focusing on the teaching and training of future workers.
Key areas of research activity will leverage advances in internet of things and data analytics for application in areas such as connected health, water quality management and STEM education innovations. The agreement will also seek to combine the creative arts and design with technology in the next wave of Irish innovation.