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Block busters: Learning about crime through technology

CREATIONS: The after school sessions were well attended by pupils

CREATIONS: The after school sessions were well attended by pupils

Children at a Wakefield primary school have been letting their imaginations run wild through a police-school’s project, after receiving a ‘block by block’ guide to cyber safety.

As part of a scheme using computerised Lego, pupils from Greenhill Primary School spent six weeks creating mechanical brick constructions with the help of West Yorkshire Police.

The youngsters were given the chance to create constructions using Mindstorm Lego kits in which the plastic blocks are laced with miniaturised motors and controlled by an ‘intelligent brick’ computer which can be attached to the devices. 

PCSOs have taught basic coding to the youngsters on iPads, allowing them to program movements for their creations and get them up and working. 

TECH SAVVY: Children were taught how to construct Lego robots by police in an attempt to highlight the power of technology

TECH SAVVY: Children were taught how to construct Lego robots by police in an attempt to highlight the power of technology

Plastic projects completed by the 9-11-year-olds include creating a Gripp3r robot which can lift a full can of coke and move it around, and a Track3r that has a variety of different attachments which can then be operated. 

Officers believe that by teaching the children how to create programmes for computers and see them in action, they will encourage them to be more respectful of technology; its potential and the need to stay safe when using it. 

PSCO Johnny Plummer of the Wakefield Neighbourhood Policing Team, who organised the scheme, said: “Teaching cyber safety is a key part of our police work with young people and we are always seeking new ways of engaging with the youngsters and encouraging them to be interested in what we do.  

“We’ve found the youngsters have really enjoyed attending these after school sessions which have allowed them to learn safety information from us and be creative at the same time. 

“Learning how to actually programme computers helps children better understand the technology and develop a better respect for it, and these Lego kits we’ve been using help them see items work in the real world as a result of the programmes they’ve created.”

The construction lessons went hand-in-hand with safety sessions at the school where children learnt about different cyber crimes including the appropriate use of social media, not disclosing information to strangers who may approach them online and much more. 

West Yorkshire Police has been conducting a force wide program of cyber safety education across the force area since last year as part of a drive to help reduce residents’ vulnerability to all types of on line offending. 

A key focus of lessons aimed at young people has been to help them spot the signs of on line grooming and also reduce their vulnerability to bullying online. 

Detective Inspector Dan Tillet, cyber crime lead for Wakefield, said: “Our officers have been working hard to find innovative approaches to cyber-crime prevention. This initiative embraces learning whilst delivering key messages to a new, computer savvy, generation.”

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