An NIC employee’s love for his son has led to an invention that will soon allow all grade school kids in the Comox Valley access to Lego robotics online all year long.
Two years ago, Albert Balbon’s son came home from his Grade 5 class excited about being able to experiment with a travelling kit of Lego robots. That excitement turned to disappointment two weeks later when the equipment was shipped to the next school on the list.
“It was all he could talk about,” Balbon said when Chase first came home after using the Lego EV3 robotics. “His eyes lit up when he talked about it and then it was gone. He knew I was developing online access to microscopes and science labs at NIC and he asked me if I could find a way to connect students to Lego robots online.”
Balbon reached out to Stewart Savard, the robotics instructor at the Comox Valley School District’s North Island Distance Education School (NIDES) and together they found a way to combine the kits with technology in NIC’s Remote Web-based Science Lab (RWSL). Their work led to NIC and the school district signing a Robotics Programming Partnership this year that will benefit all students in the district. The partnership prepares students for engineering, science, health and a growing number of tech-driven careers.
A test group of students is experimenting with the robots while the curriculum is being developed, with everything likely being in place for all students by next September.
“It will maintain students’ momentum for learning,” said Balbon. “Chase didn’t have that opportunity for this kind of access when he was in school. However, we are delighted to now be able to provide it to all students in the district.”
Under the agreement, teams of students at home or in class will be able to program and operate Lego EV3 robots housed in NIC’s Remote Web-Based Science Lab in real time over the internet.
For information on how RWSL can create a solution for you, contact Naomi Tabata, Manager of NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation at 250-923-9719.