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Learning through Play: Using LEGO® Products, Practices, and Values to Teach Social and Ethical Aspects of Engineering Design

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

LEES 1: Critical Humanities and Serious Play

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Paper Authors


Benjamin Laugelli University of Virginia

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Assistant Professor of Engineering & Society
University of Virginia

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For over twenty years college instructors have successfully integrated LEGO® products into undergraduate engineering classrooms to facilitate active learning experiences in engineering design. These experiences allow students to develop core technical proficiencies primarily related to robotics and computer programming. Despite the successful adoption of LEGO Mindstorms to teach valuable technical skills in robotics, LEGO products and practices have not been widely included in non-technical engineering classroom settings to facilitate students’ understanding of social and ethical aspects of engineering design. If LEGO products and practices could be integrated into a course in science, technology, and society (STS), as they have been into technical robotics courses, this might help students appreciate the relevance of STS and ethical concepts to engineering design challenges. With this in mind, I developed a course in STS called The LEGO Course: Engineering Design and Values. The course pairs a seminar discussion with a studio design experience to integrate the teaching of STS and ethical perspectives with authentic engineering design challenges oriented around the LEGO Group’s products, practices, and core values. Student reflections and evaluations suggest that the course effectively leverages the LEGO Group’s philosophy of “learning through play” to convey the value that social and ethical perspectives bring to engineering design.

Laugelli, B. (2022, August), Learning through Play: Using LEGO® Products, Practices, and Values to Teach Social and Ethical Aspects of Engineering Design Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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