Press Releases


MONTREAL, APRIL 23, 2015 – Three groups of Grade 1 and 2 Mackay Centre School students in NDG participated in this year’s FIRST® Junior LEGO® LEAGUE (Jr.FLL) Robotics Competition. Caspar Aarlit Jensen, program and partnerships officer at The LEGO Foundation in Denmark, visited students at school. 

The Mackay Center School educates children from across Greater Montreal with motor, speech and sensorial difficulties.

Montreal schools from various boards, including the English Montreal School Board, Commission Scolaire de Montréal and the Commission Scolaire de Pointe de L’Ile  participated in the  Jr.FLL in Montreal on March 20. The Mackay Centre School participated in the aged six to nine year-old category. 

The competition, funded by FIRST and The LEGO Foundation, is a Think Tank Challenge that aims to redefine learning. Students were asked to choose a place they could learn something, a specific tool they could use to gather information and find out more about it, and show what they learned through building and displaying a LEGO model and Show Me poster.

Sara Iatauro, EMSB Pedagogical Consultant for Science & Technology at the elementary level and for robotics, chose the Mackay Centre and.Principal Patrizia Ciccarelli was quick to jump on board with the project.

Under the direction of Gaye McConnell, resource and media teacher at Mackay, and teachers Jessica Palmer and Kathleen Timney, the students excelled at the activity of creating their model classrooms of the future with LEGO. In order for their models to qualify, they required one LEGO motor and one simple machine to be preprogrammed.

“A lot of our students have language and fine-motor disorders, but when they worked as a team with LEGO they all shined, complemented and encouraged each other,” shared  Ms. McConnell. “What they learn you can’t even begin to teach in class.”

Implementing a program like LEGO education requires careful evaluation of how it will impact the learning of the students. “Given who they are, given the profile of our students, this was a huge success,” adds Ciccarelli. “They had the opportunity to work as a team and share their projects at the FIRST Robotics Competition.”

Jensen was impressed with the work of the Mackay students, and explained that LEGO donated WeDo kits and LEGO charity boxes to participating schools. “We focus on play and the importance of play in child development,” shared Jensen. “We encourage Ministers of Education to include play in curriculums.”

FIRST (For Inspiration And Recognition Of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, this not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213