LEGO Education Centre in Shanghai
I recently had an opportunity to go to China and spent some time in Shanghai, where I thought I'd check out one of the LEGO Education Centres there.
The Centres are run by a company called Semia, who exclusively distribute LEGO educational products in China. They have programs for children of all ages, including FLL and WRO.
The video is a quick walk around of the Centre.
Did you notice any NXT there?
From the video it seems they are still using RCXs only.
What was your overall impression of the setup? Was it packed with kids... not so much? How about curriculum - did you see any?
They do use NXT's for certain activities/programs, but it depends on what activiy they are running at the time. The RCX's (in the video) were used in an activity to do some tasks on the "Power Puzzle" FLL mat.
One thing I'll note is the price of the NXT in China is quite expensive. The 9797 educational NXT base set is about $550 USD ($260 in United States). I asked about the reason for the price difference, and I was told the higher price was due to import tariffs. With the average family income being fairly low, I really wonder how NXT's could even sell in China.
Hopefully, though, centers like this one will at least get those kids some sort of access to the technology and training.
So there's a fraction of that number of people (40 millions in Germany, 40 millions in China) that will buy a NXT kit in the end.
However, the price for such a kit is considerably lower in Germayn than in China.
Hence, I don't think that the number of potential customers (which should be at least equal in both countries) when it comes to family income is the reason for the difference in price.
As this was my first LEGO Education Centre, I have nothing to compare it too, but here are some impressions:
The centre was well organized with many ongoing programs including classes for children (divided into different age groups), and special programs during the year for FLL and WRO. There was, of course, a large emphasis on hands-on activities. Parents would bring their children to the Centre for classes and the parents would wait in the central waiting room until the class was over.
The centre did not seem packed, but was full. They had about 4-5 staff who are "trainers" that teach and lead the children in the activities following a curriculum. For example, the students would be given a work booklet that guide the children to use LEGO components to learn about something in the "real-world". The trainer would be at a white board and give some background theory interacting with the children, then the children would be guided through the booklet. The children seemed like they were gaining a meaningful experience, were attentive/ interested, and were overall having fun.
One of these trainers I met is named Johnson. He is a true LEGO MINDSTORMS enthusiast who is really dedicated to educating children using LEGO MINDSTORMS - he even develops curriculum for the Chinese market. It was really cool to find people like yourself on the other side of the world; it was not hard for us to be friends.
>Hopefully, though, centers like this one
>will at least get those kids some sort of
>access to the technology and training.
This is exactly what is going on.
Also, because of the high prices of the NXT, there was software created to help teach children how to program in NXT-G by allowing them to program a virtual NXT robot. Of course the real thing is better, this is a great tool that allows many more children to experience the NXT.
I will soon post more details about this software.
But the price of 9797 edu basic set with NXT-G software is "USD 701"!!!
I do not know LEGO company know the difference price of global market? or the price is just the right of local agent? I think the higher price is the biggest rock of robotics education in Taiwan.
And do you where regular Legos can be bought in the Chinese market?