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Take a LEGO®
building challenge

Integrating Digital
Technologies

Years 3-4

DT+ English


In pairs, explore giving and following a sequence of steps and decisions to build a LEGO® toy.


LEGO box

Suggested steps

    1. Working in pairs, students complete the construction of a LEGO® toy. One student interprets the printed instructions into step-by-step verbal instructions for the other student to follow to build the toy. The student following instructions does this without speaking or seeing the printed instructions.
    2. Both students then compare the completed toy against the printed instructions, to see whether these instructions were effectively communicated (verbally) and followed.

Variations

    1. If using the 3 in 1 LEGO® toy kit, then repeat the LEGO® toy-building activity, constructing a different version of the three possible toys, but this time include a time limit. This will encourage students to understand the importance of breaking tasks down, of seeing patterns in the way they describe things so they are easily understood, and of abstracting concepts to complete a set task.
    2. Students build their own character or model from LEGO® or similar building blocks. Each student then instructs their partner to use the relevant blocks to build a replica of their creation. (Ensure sufficient blocks are available to make the replica.)

Discussion

  • Discuss commonly used instructional language. Some examples: pick up, join, fix, press; directional language (over, on top of, below, next to, beside); and specific technical language (the red 4x2 block).
  • Talk about decisions: At what stages (if any) did students have to make a choice about what to join or what order of steps to follow? What instructions were used? (Look for any examples of if-then statements.)
  • Discuss approaches to minimising/clarifying instructions: clear and precise instructions in correct order, summarising the instructions in sub tasks (# now we are adding headlights) ‘Pick up the clear, single, cylinder block and place on the end of the 4x1 white block’.
  • Connect algorithms to programming: Different groups came up with different algorithms to solve the same problem and code can be written (in different ways) to implement the algorithm.

Why is this relevant?

Computers operate by following a list of instructions, called a program, which has been written to carry out a particular task. Programs are written in languages that have been specially designed, with a limited set of instructions, to tell computers what to do. Some languages are more suitable for some purposes than others.

This task provides students with the opportunity to create and follow an algorithm to complete a particular task, focusing on clear and precise language provided in the correct order.

Note: this task has limited opportunity to incorporate choices (though that is an integral part of designing algorithms at this level (years 3–4).