By Jacqui Rawson
These old building blocks, around for almost 80 years have taken on new life in Ponheary Ly Foundation schools with an impressive link-up to technology. PLF students and teachers are loving this exciting program which brings a new way of teaching and learning technology.
National Instruments, which partners with LEGO to make the software for the LEGO WeDo and LEGO MINDSTORMS products, provides two platforms of education where the children learn the basics of engineering while playing with Lego blocks that come to life through the use of a computer. Not only do they have fun, exercise creativity and build things, they are also engaging in problem solving, self-planning and critical thinking.
Finding a project that teaches the analytical/logical way of thinking can be a challenge and in part, PLF has taken on Lego Robotics as an ongoing project for that reason. It provides the benefits of utilizing both sides of thinking, not only the creative and imaginative but also the analytical and logical.
Rural children in Cambodia have little or no knowledge of what an engineer is. Couple that with a greater need for Cambodian engineers and this project can serve as an introductory platform to the concept of engineering and potentially plant the seed for “I can and want to do this!”
“I hope that in Cambodia, development will happen more by the children who have very good ideas about new technology,” says Chhean Soveth, a PLF Media teacher who has been trained to teach Lego Robotics in PLF schools.
A Siem Reap based in-house production company, Pactics is encouraging locals to apply for roles, thus creating a growing demand in this field. Pactics have also assisted, two PLF graduates, who are masters in science and math to enrol for further study in their field of “mechatronics” at the National Polytechnic Institute. They are the first women ever to enrol in this course.