ICT tutor: A M Higgins
link to home pagelink to touch sensor programlink to light sensor programlink to screenshot explanationlink to notes on learninglink to related images

image of red tack

Check out the zipped folders labelled Homework, ICT2, ICT3, ICT4 on the Hibernia site. They have some relevant links you could use.


The Reflection aspect of this assignment is important, as is the discussion on Learning Tools. You might find something to quote here.


Papert Conversation - http://www.benslade.com/tech/TalkWithPapertMinskyKay.html

Papert's Home Page - http://www.papert.org

Papert Papers - http://learning.media.mit.edu/publications_papert.html

Piaget - Cognitive development - http://tip.psychology.org/piaget.html

Jonassen - Mindtools - http://coe.west.asu.edu/mindtools

Jonassen's Home page - http://tiger.coe.missouri.edu/~jonassen/

(Note re web design: The following links are given without displaying the address. You can see that it is better Netiquette, a matter of courtesy, really, to present the URL here.)

MIT programmable brick - Home page

Paper from MIT group on use of Programmable Bricks. Discusses autonomous creatures, active environments, and personal science experiments.

Epistemology and Learning group

Mindstorms links

Mindstorms online community


back to top


image of rcx brick
RCX brick



This unit of the ICT module explores the use of constructivist and constructionist approaches to learning using Lego and a programmable RCX brick as "objects to think with". It is an approach being followed by an increasing number of schools and other learning organisations in Ireland and around the world. See for example the "Empowering Minds" project. Mindstorms offers one way in which ICT can be integrated into classroom learning in a holistic, constructivist fashion. The unit seeks to give you sufficient understanding of the technology to be comfortable with using it in the classroom. It is not however intended that the classroom teacher need become an expert in either robotics or programming. Rather the teacher should feel empowered to be able to run a learning activity which use ICT - in the form of the RCX brick - as an object to think with within that learning activity. In practice what is often found is that once one or two children in the class have mastered how to perform some task that they in turn tell others. The successful use of the technology does of course depend upon a number of factors of which the most important is the learning environment set-up and maintained by the teacher.


The Programmable Brick was designed at the Epistemology and Learning Group at the MIT Media Lab which was set up to explore new ways of thinking, learning, and designing with technology. They focus on the creation of "tools to think with". The work is a direct follow-on from Papert's earlier work with the LOGO programming language. The Brick works by allowing learners to build a Lego model using a small, portable computer that can interact with the physical world through sensors and motors. The learning activities can be designed to aid learners in understanding scientific concepts related to logic, programming, behaviour, feedback, control etc. The original MIT brick is now available as a commercial product from Lego. There are a number of versions but this course uses Mindstorms which comes with an easy to use graphical programming language which includes most of the basic constructs of programming. The brick can control a number of motors and sensors can be attached which respond to touch and light. In all Mindstorms allows non trivial devices to be built which can INTERACT with their environment.

back to top


Books on Mindstorms

Fred Martin's book on robotics.A Hands-on Introduction to Engineering. (ISBN 0130895687)

Building Robots with LegoŽ Mindstorms, Ferrari M, Ferrari G, Syngress 2001. ISBN: 1-928994-67-9.

Dave Baum's Definitive Guide to LEGO Mindstorms (Technology In Action), Baum D, Zurcher R, APress, 2000. ISBN: 1893115097



Savage, T., Sánchez, I. A., O'Donnell, F., and Tangney, B. Using Robotic Technology as a Constructionist Mindtool in Knowledge Construction.

Barnes, D., J., "Teaching Introductory Java through LEGO MINDSTORMS Models". ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Proceedings of the 23rd SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer Science Education. (Dead link, sorry)

Linder, S., P., Nestrick, B., E., Mulders, S., Lavalle, C., L. "Facilitating Active learning with inexpensive Mobile Robots". The Journal of Computing in small colleges, proceedings of the 6th annual CCSC northeastern conference on the journal of computing in small colleges, V16, I 4. (Dead link, sorry)

Fred G. Martin The Art of LEGO Design. The Robotics Practitioner: The Journal for Robot Builders, volume 1, number 2, Spring 1995.

back to top

© A M Higgins

  Disclaimer: A M Higgins accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising as a result of use of or reliance on this website, nor for the accuracy or integrity of material accessed via links from this site.