LEGO blocks as important as tadpoles

Press releases 2010

Photo: Jesper Rais/AU-foto
He is an associate professor at the Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, and has been head of the LEGO Lab for the last ten years or so. Among the public, he is best known as the ‘robot man’ who gets Danish schoolchildren interested in technology and science through playing with LEGO robots. Photo: Jesper Rais/AU-foto

In many ways, technology has become our second nature. Technology is part of virtually everything that surrounds us, yet we have remained technologically illiterate to a large extent. We do not understand how technology works. But schoolchildren should understand things like why supermarket doors open without being touched.
This is the view of Associate Professor Ole Caprani, head of the LEGO Lab in IT City Katrinebjerg. He would therefore like young people to play with LEGO blocks, and thinks that we should make better use of the ability of children and young people to marvel at new discoveries.
“Children and young people love technology, including girls. It’s important to stimulate their interest in the world that fascinates them.”

Girls love technology

In Associate Professor Caprani’s opinion, it is a myth that girls and technology do not go together.
“When we organise robot competitions, the girls are often the best and the most focused. The boys have a tendency to mess around and pursue ideas that never materialise.”
Recently, some upper secondary school groups visited him in his LEGO Lab to face the challenge of building an entire city out of computer scrap and LEGO. Their task was to incorporate sensors in the materials so they could measure different things.
When they had to present the project, the girls were the ones sitting at the computers, and they were also the ones who invented the ideas and the stories about the city. In the meantime, the boys were wandering aimlessly around without tidying up after themselves.
“In my experience, it’s easy to get girls interested in technology, as long as you combine it with something else,” says Associate Professor Caprani.