A grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation funded classroom Lego Attack and Defense models created by the CyberWyoming Alliance that shipped to teachers across the state in September.
Each model includes a Lego set wired to lights and motors through a Raspberry Pi computer. Then the Raspberry Pi is connected to an attack laptop and a defense laptop via a network using a switch or router.
“The only people that don’t love Legos are parents who step on them in bare feet in the middle of the night,” said Laura Baker, President of the CyberWyoming Alliance and parent who has stepped on Legos in her bare feet.
Baker said that having a tangible learning playground tied to industries seen throughout the state (hospitals, construction sites, and airports) reduces the technical intimidation factor and may encourage students to consider that tech jobs could be next door.
Teachers can check out the models for free for an entire semester to use in their classroom as a hands-on learning experience that includes engineering, circuitry, light networking, PC troubleshooting, Python programming, Linux, and, of course, trying to turn the lights off and on as the defense and attack teams.
The teacher guide is mapped to Wyoming’s computer science standards and included other resources such as free supplemental lesson plans from TeachCyber.org.
When asked if the Lego Attack and Defense Model would fit into her plans to meet Wyoming teaching standards a teacher from Hanna responded, “It is a future exploration which will help in understanding practical application of mathematics.”
All teachers that registered to receive the models in the 2023-2024 school year said the models fit into their plans for teaching their subject and generate interest for their classes. Most teachers that requested the models teach coding/programming however some teach math, general STEAM, elementary education, and engineering.
Currently, the teachers that requested the model for the spring semester outnumber the models available. “I’m working to stretch our Wyoming Community Foundation grant and recruiting additional funders and donations of equipment to expand our Lego kits and long term shipping funds. And, it looks like the Wyoming Department of Education – CTE Division (Career and Technical Education) is going to help out with purchases of materials for the extra sets,” said Baker. Each kit ships for about $65 in a large rolling suitcase.
“We are excited to partner with the CyberWyoming Alliance in providing the materials needed to build four additional Lego models. The models are an interactive and engaging resource allowing teachers to help our students understand how cybersecurity, coding, and engineering are relevant to our communities and our everyday lives,” said Dr. Michelle Aldrich, Career & Technical Education Supervisor for the Wyoming Department of Education.
If you can donate a hard sided 24-28” rolling suitcase, an old laptop that works (Windows 7 or higher), a Raspberry Pi, a Lego set, or a small switch or router, please contact Laura at email@example.com. The CyberWyoming Alliance is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and the donation is considered tax deductible.
“Older equipment is fine because if it breaks we just tell the teacher to take it apart and make it a learning experiences for the students. Then, our plan is to have a few extra donated laptops on hand to send to the teacher to replace the one that broke,” said Baker.
CyberWyoming Alliance’s program is loosely affiliated with Wyoming Manufacturing Works’ Lego City that travels across the state and the Laramie County Community College’s stationary Cyber City. “We all talk and coordinate to make sure we are complimenting each other’s efforts. When the Wyoming Department of Education’s Inspire Ingenuity conference took place at LCCC, we made sure teachers knew that they could see the inner workings of the Cyber City so they would have a greater comfort level with the CyberWyoming Alliance suitcase models,” said Baker.
About the CyberWyoming Alliance: The CyberWyoming Alliance is a statewide, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Laramie whose mission is to increase cybersecurity awareness, education, and outreach in communities across the State of Wyoming.