Project

LEGO Wayfinder

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The LEGO Wayfinder project combines LEGO, robotics, and seawater into a playground of project-based learning and citizen science for budding engineers and explorers. As part of this outreach program, our team has developed a first prototype of a buildable LEGO marine exploration vehicle kit—addressing some of the design challenges of building for the underwater context.

Our aim is to build an awareness of the state of the aquatic environment and instill a greater responsibility in shaping our interactions with the environment. To do so, young people will view underwater wonders of the world with their robots and get outside to explore their local waterway. Our approach embraces Seymour Papert’s model of "low floors" (where getting started is easy), and "high ceilings," where students can pour their time and collaborative work efforts into creative engineering solutions to carry out a marine science experiment of their own design in the field.

The LEGO Wayfinder project combines LEGO, robotics, and seawater into a playground of project-based learning and citizen science for budding engineers and explorers. As part of this outreach program, our team has developed a first prototype of a buildable LEGO marine exploration vehicle kit—addressing some of the design challenges of building for the underwater context.

Our aim is to build an awareness of the state of the aquatic environment and instill a greater responsibility in shaping our interactions with the environment. To do so, young people will view underwater wonders of the world with their robots and get outside to explore their local waterway. Our approach embraces Seymour Papert’s model of "low floors" (where getting started is easy), and "high ceilings," where students can pour their time and collaborative work efforts into creative engineering solutions to carry out a marine science experiment of their own design in the field.

Using this kit, we kicked off our outreach program in the summer of 2018 with the National Geographic Student Expeditions at MIT, where we hosted 40 high school students for two days of workshops at MIT Sea Grant and New England Aquarium. The young people built on top of the kit, making the marine explorer more sophisticated and customized in order to execute marine science experiments of their design.

Going forward, we aim to develop our next prototype focusing on the ease and operability of the underwater build kit allowing for even more playful and creative transformations when in the hands of the students. With future prototypes we will adapt this programming for wider student audiences in after-school programs, classrooms, libraries, and community-based mentor clubs for youth.

Team Members

  • Danny Badger (New England Aquarium)
  • Katy Croff Bell (MIT Media Lab)
  • Jenni Szlosek Chow (MIT Media Lab)
  • Tom Consi (MIT Sea Grant)
  • Heather Deschenes (New England Aquarium)
  • Rachel Hwang (Wellesley UROP)
  • Daniel Mathiasen (FRVR, previously at LEGO Education)
  • Katherine McConachie (MIT Media Lab)
  • Avery Normandin (MIT Media Lab)
  • John Paris (MIT UROP)
  • Mark Pierce (City Year)
  • Henriette Recny (City Year)
  • Philipp Schmidt (MIT Media Lab)
  • Marcel Schouwenaar (The Incredible Machine)
  • Harm van Beek (The Incredible Machine)