National Instruments and Lego announce educational software

-August 08, 2008

In another step to bring engineering into elementary education, National Instruments and Lego Education have introduced the WeDo classroom robotics platform. The software is powered by NI LabView and is a drag-and-drop, icon-based program aimed at students from ages 7 to 11.

The announcement was part of NI Week, which was held this week in Austin, TX. 

Students will be able to use the program to build a Lego model and program its movements. The programmers will see immediate results and be able to make instant changes, as their models remain attached to the computer. The easy-to-use program will help teach students how to solve problems through building and programming.

The WeDo software is designed to be used in most areas of education, including science, technology, mathematics, language, and literacy.

The software operates on the Intel Classmate PC running Windows XP, the One Laptop per Child XO running the Linux OS, and PC supporting Windows XP or Windows Vista (32-bit), and any Mac running Apple Macintosh 10.5.

“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,” said Lars Nyengaard, director of innovation at Lego Education.

The software will be made available in the US and Brazil in January 2009.

NI began its partnership with LEGO Education in 1998 when LabView powered RoboLab, a robotics software designed by the Tufts University Center for Engineering Educational Outreach for LEGO Mindstorms. The companies also collaborated to produce Lego Mindstorms NXT in 2006.

Earlier this year, NI also partnered with the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program to provide their CompactRIO embedded control platform as robot controllers for the competition.

Both NI partnerships are part of an initiative to bring engineering to K-12 students in order to aid innovation and inspire new generations of engineers.

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