Growing up, many kids play with Legos. Many of today’s adults recall Legos as one of their favorite childhood toys. But times have changed, and kids today have a whole new plan for Legos.
Vickery students enjoy enhancing their science and engineering skills at the Lego robotics club made possible thanks to a partnership with LEF and CoServ Electric.
Thanks to a partnership between LEF and CoServ Electric, students in fourth- and fifth-grade at Vickery Elementary got the opportunity to apply for and participate in Lego Robotics Club, an eight-week after school program designed to integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into a fun, hands-on play curriculum.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Diane Kenyon, the Vickery educator who wrote the proposal for LEF funding. “It’s a hands-on way to apply the lessons they already learned in math and science. ”
Diana Skorusa, who teaches science at Vickery, agrees. “It allows us to spend time after school reinforcing the elements students are expected to learn in fourth- and fifth-grade science. They apply scientific design to make parts move and they are engaged in the intricacies of programming and coding as they create something fun and exciting.”
Students come to club ready to get busy. They gather their materials – Legos, gears, motors and a laptop computer loaded with software that allows them to program the Lego components to move. And then they get to work, building something from a Lego idea book or something they saw in their mind’s eye.
“It’s exciting to watch and see what they will create,” Skorusa said. “Someone might expect students to get off task with these toys in front of them, but they don’t. Kids who struggle to focus in class are intent here.”
Intent, and persistent. Fifth grade student Aaliyah Liggins built a crocodile. “He’s going to eat the Lego guy,” she explained. But “Crocky,” as she named him, wasn’t biting. “There’s got to be some way….” Her voice trailed off as her attention turned from the Lego pieces to the laptop in front of her. It was clear she knew how to make Crocky bite, and she wasn’t going to be deterred. “I’ve got his mouth going up, but it isn’t going all the way back down…” her voice trailed off as she tried another command in her program.
At another table, Brayden Guy and Dante Clements, fifth- and fourth-grade students respectively, saw more immediate success. “We built a drill,” Guy explained. “It went together pretty quickly because this is just how our mind works.” The boys enjoy Lego club because of the variety it adds to their day. “This isn’t like our normal classes,” Clements said. “It’s better because we get to do a lot of freestyle and create the things we want to create. And we don’t have this in our classroom or at home, so it’s worth staying after school.”
The freestyle creations are a perfect example of students learning, unaware, as the creative side takes students through the engineering process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve, Present. That process, Skorusa explained, is essential to the STEM concepts students are expected to master at this point in their academic careers.
And with mastery of those concepts, comes success… Which sometimes looks like a man-eating crocodile. “There!” Liggins exclaimed as she executed the correct command and Crocky’s mouth opened and closed, preparing to devour his after school snack.