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All Aboard the Intelino Express

Putting the E in STEM-centred learning

All aboard the Intelino Express to STEMsville…

The Intelino Smart Train system

Receiving delivery from Intelino in late November 2023 was like Christmas had arrived early at the amazing school where I work. As the children in my after-school Code Club unboxed the parcels, it reminded me too I had only first seen the Smart Train system in March 2023 @BETT_Show.

I have worked in schools since 2012 and have specialised in teaching Computing since 2020. During that time, I have seen many amazing curriculum-centred #EdTech products. The Intelino Smart Train system has gone above and beyond. Intelino, quite possibly reaches right across the STEM-related range of subjects that other programmable products simply do not teach.

Taking a STEM centred approach to learning

The Intelino carriages.

During 2023, I have been increasing my subject knowledge from teaching Computing to a more STEM-centric focus on learning. I have been building cross-curricular links with Physics as well as Design & Technology. This is because some may think Design & Technology is most closely aligned to Engineering in schools. The statutory expectations to teach the Science of electricity to children in Year 4 (aged 8-9-year-olds) and Year 6 (10 to 11-year-olds) from basic concepts about electricity to building computer-controlled circuits with specific applications such as an intruder alarm means there is a natural and obvious (pardon the pun) connection between Computing and Primary Physics.

Modelling concepts from Physics

I was thinking about the statutory expectations of the Physics part of the National Curriculum when I spotted the link with Intelino. The Intelino locomotives and carriages are perfect for the sequence of learning on forces and magnets. Specifically, “compare how objects move on different surfaces”. This means working scientifically to evaluate how an Intelino locomotive travels over a range of terrains and compared to the track. The locomotives could also potentially demonstrate how some forces need to be in contact with a surface to be able to move.

Far from being suitable for the youngest learners, Intelino is perfect for demonstrating the relative motion of “vehicles passing one another” in the secondary curriculum. The ability to accurately record speed enables a whole range of learning opportunities, specifically “interpreting quantitively graphs of distance, time and speed.” While focused on Physics, I have also been thinking about using Intelino to model an electrical circuit with eight pieces of track and think I might need another 12 locomotives based on this scale…

Building bridges with other STEM-centric learning opportunities

Eight pieces of curved Intelino track and four locomotives.

The materials used for the production of the track and rolling stock are sufficiently robust as well to enable Intelino track and rolling stock to be used as weights for testing and comparing bridge structures assembled from construction sets such as those produced by Strawbees:

Truss bridge building using Strawbees STEAM School Kit (image courtesy of Strawbees)

…and I haven’t even started talking about the huge opportunities for using Intelino and Strawbees for teaching Primary Computing…

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The author

Allen Tsui is the subject lead for Computing at Willow Brook Primary School Academy in North East London where he has held the role since Summer 2020. Allen has also been a Digital Schoolhouse Leader since Summer 2023.

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