National Instruments Announces LEGO Education WeDo Robotics Platform

National Instruments and LEGO Education continue their educational robotics collaboration with the new LEGO Education WeDo classroom robotics platform. Powered by NI LabVIEW graphical design software, LEGO Education WeDo Software is a drag-and-drop, icon-based environment that students ages 7 to 11 can use to easily program their own robotics inventions. Using WeDo software, students learn basic programming skills while designing their robotics applications.

Teachers can incorporate the WeDo concept in a broad range of curriculum areas including science, technology, mathematics, language and literacy. When designing their robotics applications, students use creativity, teamwork and problem solving, which are crucial skills needed to compete in the global marketplace. WeDo software operates on the Intel Classmate PC running Windows XP, the One Laptop per Child XO running the Linux® OS, any PC supporting Windows XP or Windows Vista (32-bit) and any Mac running Apple Macintosh 10.5.

“LEGO Education is proud to continue our ongoing collaboration with National Instruments to provide students as young as seven years of age with a robotics product that actively involves them in their own learning process and promotes creative thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills – skills that are essential in the workplace of the 21st century,” said Lars Nyengaard, director of innovation at LEGO Education. “By combining the intuitive and interactive interface of LEGO Education WeDo software with the physical experience of building models out of LEGO bricks, we can bridge the physical and virtual worlds to provide the ultimate hands-on, minds-on learning experience.”

LEGO Education WeDo encourages teachers to issue curriculum-based challenges that students must solve. Working in teams, the children invent their own solutions by building LEGO models and programming them to perform certain tasks. Cause-and-effect learning is enhanced by the models remaining tethered to a computer; similar to scientists in working labs, children can test and adjust their programming in real time. After reflecting on what did and did not work, students can consult with peers, adapt programming, adjust models or begin again.

“National Instruments is passionate about educating and inspiring today’s students to become engineers and scientists through hands-on, project-based learning,” said Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations at National Instruments. “Our collaboration with LEGO Education has leveraged the strength of both companies to deliver our third educational robotics toolset in the past 10 years.”

The National Instruments collaboration with LEGO Education began in 1998 when ROBOLAB, the software powered by LabVIEW and developed by the Tufts University Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, was launched for the original LEGO MINDSTORMS® robotics software. In 2006, LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, the current generation of LEGO robotics, was codeveloped by these companies to provide students with the latest hardware and software technology for building advanced, autonomous robotics.

LEGO Education WeDo will be available from LEGO Education in January 2009.

About National Instruments in Academia
National Instruments (www.ni.com) is committed to enhancing engineering and science education worldwide by providing educators and students with powerful graphical system design software and low-cost, modular hardware to connect curriculum with hands-on, project-based learning. NI LabVIEW graphical development software helps students visualize and implement important engineering concepts. The integration of LabVIEW in the classroom creates an effective, dynamic learning environment – from LEGO Education WeDo in primary schools to research laboratories in universities. For more information about NI academic products, curriculum resources and discounts, visit www.ni.com/academic

About The LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 4,500 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities through its products, which can be purchased in more than 130 countries.