Kinetic Sculptures with Lego Wedo

Students create their own sustainable sculptures with motion, using structural elements and Lego motors.

The purpose of the scenario is to introduce students to simple educational robotics platforms through a framework that leverages artworks and visits to museum spaces. The students create art that is reusable, as their works will eventually be disassembled to reuse the Lego elements. Specific goals include enhancing skills such as:

  • Creativity
  • Design Thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Summary

The scenario has been designed within the framework of two Erasmus+ programs:

An ideal space for implementing the scenario is a museum with sculptures that we will visit, but it can also be done within the classroom. Students work in groups and use half-baked instructions to create their own artwork with motion.

They work in groups of 4-5 individuals, and for each group, we need to ensure that there is equipment available (a Lego Wedo 2 set and a tablet with the Wedo 2 software installed). In case the scenario takes place in a museum setting, groups can sit on the floor and work in front of the sculpture they have chosen. If it’s done in the classroom, each group needs a table.

Introduction

After exploring the museum exhibits, we assign each group a sculpture and initially ask them to describe and comment on what they see and what impresses them. In the case of implementing the scenario in the classroom, we can provide each group with photos of sculptures.

Main Activity

Each group receives their own worksheet, which includes very simple instructions for building a base with two motors using the Lego Wedo 2 set. From there, each group is free to make any additions and changes they want, inspired by the sculpture assigned to them, in order to create a new artwork. We emphasize to the students that their sculpture could incorporate 2 motors as well as the light from the Lego Wedo 2 Hub, which they can use to make their work more interesting.

The activity is inherently open-ended, and there’s no right or wrong approach. Our role is primarily motivational. We move around the groups, inquire about their ideas, and make (general) suggestions if we see a creative gap.

Presentation and Exhibition

Once the groups have completed their artwork, we ask them to create a small card with the title of their creation. Additionally, we request each group to give a 1-minute presentation of their work.

If possible, we can consider leaving the group’s works with their accompanying cards as a form of exhibition (either within the school or in a museum space, based on prior arrangement).

Anticipating Challenges

Most students in Greek schools haven’t had much experience with teamwork within a group. This is expected to bring about challenges, which is why it’s crucial to enforce strict group operation rules: a) Each construction step is performed by one child in sequence, while others observe and can point out anything they consider incorrect. b) Parallel constructions by different members of the group are strictly prohibited.

As this particular activity involves many ‘open-ended steps’ that lack instructions, relying on the ideas children within the group may have, it’s important to set some guidelines there as well. Each group member can propose their idea, and the group can then vote on the direction they should take. If conflicts arise within the group regarding who can add or remove pieces, stricter rules can be defined (e.g., each person, in turn, adds 2 pieces with majority agreement).

We should be prepared by ensuring that the robotics sets are organized, and batteries are charged. We also need to pay attention when establishing Bluetooth connections between tablets and Lego units to avoid mistakes.

In the case of implementing the scenario within a museum, excellent time and space organization is essential, in collaboration with the institution we are partnering with.

Implementation

The scenario was carried out during the academic year 2022-2023 on three different occasions. Initially, in March, it was implemented with the 5th-grade E class of the Primary School of Florina. This took place during the visit of three colleagues from Oviedo, Spain, who were participating in a Job Shadowing activity as part of the Cultural Heritage Art Innovation in Education program. In this case, the scenario was implemented within the classroom, in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Florina. We brought five sculptures from the museum to the school, which served as inspiration for the student groups.

The second implementation of the scenario took place in May 2023, involving students (6th-grade) from Finland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece as part of the ‘What a Wonderful World!‘ program. In this case, the students initially worked in the school’s robotics workshop, creating their sculptures. In the afternoon of the same day, we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Florina, and the initial sculptures were given to different groups with the aim of being ‘tampered with’ to create something new. The students worked on-site and eventually left their artworks at the museum, where they were exhibited to the public for a week.

The dancing Shrek – Video

The third implementation of the scenario took place in June 2023 at the 5th Primary School of Florina (6th-grade) during the visit of three colleagues from Seville, Spain, participating in a Job Shadowing activity as part of the Cultural Heritage Art Innovation in Education program. In this case, the scenario was executed within the classroom, and the groups were provided with photographs of famous sculptures as a source of inspiration.

Learning Outcomes

Most students were familiar with the specific robotics platform, although they had never used it before as a vehicle for expressing their creativity in a field like art. Additionally, the fact that their final creations would be presented to an audience, but also have a limited lifespan, as they would eventually need to be disassembled for reuse, added a particular dimension of interest.

All the groups effortlessly managed to connect and program their constructions. The students worked very well within their teams, and strict rules for the order of construction steps weren’t necessary. All group presentations were successful, receiving affirmation and recognition from their peers. This positive atmosphere, which bolsters students’ creativity and self-confidence, could be attributed in part to the presence of visiting educators from other countries during each implementation, who, with their interest, assisted in the execution.”

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