Getting Started with Lego Robotics
by Mark Gura

Price at time of review: $37.95
137 pp.
International Society for Technology in Education
Eugene, OR
ISBN: 9781564842985

Grade Level: K-12

Reviewed by Adah Stock
Master Teacher and a Science Education Consultant

Who better to ask to review this book than someone who has never used Lego Robotics?
This complete guide is designed to help a complete novice begin to use this curriculum and its materials in a STEM program. Overall this is a good start for the beginner and that is what this book is all about.

This ten-chapter book lives up to its name. It begins with an introduction about why one needs to read it. The first chapter gives the reader a broad overview introducing the basics of Lego Robotics--what they are and why one should use them. Chapter 2 is devoted to materials and software. There is much to learn here since you have old Lego systems and the newer NXT versions. There is a chapter about managing Lego Robotics in both in the physical setting of the classroom as well as the website. Chapter 4 gives the reader lots of useful activity ideas and Chapter 5 talks about assessing learning gained from Lego Robotics. There are suggested rubrics and other ways to value student learning in this chapter. The next chapter addresses the documentation, saving and archiving of projects. The next two chapters are very important justifying a need for robotics in the curriculum and provide national standards that apply for this kind of activity. The author addresses the connection of robotics to STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) curriculum, a hot topic issue for developing quality education for our future citizens in the world and the job market. He even presents cross-curricular approaches with writing and social students so these experiences can serve as a cross curricula unit for a school. This would be a must to justify the time and investment that it would take to initiate this sort of project. Chapter 9 talks about competitions if your students rise to the robotic challenges available.

The last chapter, approximately fifty pages, contains interviews or testimonials with 11 Lego Robotics experts from teachers to curriculum specialists. These pages might have been used for something more important that seems to be missing. The author might have focused on price and affordability; Lego Robotics kits and parts are pricey and with today‚Äôs economy they might be out of reach for schools. How does a school without funding find monies for these materials? Perhaps a section on creative grant writing or fund raising or such would have been appropriate here. Another missing component that I see as a classroom teacher is that this author fails to address the needs of special populations such as students with learning disorders or English Language learners. With inclusion classes as the norm in most school systems a teacher has to consider all of their students needs. I would guess that a Lego Robotics program would be a wonderful tool for those students since there are so many hands on activities and so many visuals in the programming aspect. 

There are so many resources identified in this book throughout the chapters.  It is great to have everything in one place. The appendices are awesome as well. They include sections on classic projects, more resources, a glossary, the National Education Standards, and an index.  Keep in mind however that there is still much for a newbie to do. You must learn how to program these tech tools on your own. No chapter addresses this but websites are suggested.  With this said this book title says it all. 

Even after completing the book, you are only getting started. There are lots of resources on the Internet but you still have a steep learning curve and need time to do this before presenting it to students. 

Review posted on 12/9/2011

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