Kelloggsville — When Gabe Hernandez builds something out of LEGO pieces, he feels proud. So joining a new program at the school centered on using LEGOs to build things and be creative seemed like a good fit for him.
“(I feel like) I have done a good job,” said Gabe, a second-grader at West Kelloggsville Elementary School.
The pilot program has two groups that have been meeting for several weeks and will continue through the rest of the school year.
The opportunity to make anything he wants with LEGO pieces attracted Christopher Zambrana to the after-school program.
“I like doing it with the instructions because it’s more fun to me,” Christopher said.
High school teacher Briana Green helps run the program with Amy DeVries, instructional support and media specialist at West Kelloggsville.
“This is their first chance to start building and using their creativity to make something of their own,” said Green, an English teacher at Kelloggsville’s Virtual School. “A lot of people think of LEGOs as just toys but as we get older and start building stuff at home, you still have to follow the basics of reading directions and following directions.”
Students in a recent session could use LEGO pieces to build a flower in their own way, use a model kit following directions to build an object such as a race car, or play “LEGO charades” where other students had to guess what the other built.
‘Learning Good Skills’
During other program sessions, when projects were difficult, Ximena Ozuna worked with other students to complete them.
“I joined the club to spend time with friends,” Ximena said.
She worked with fellow student Hannah Shavalier to build an ambulance out of LEGO pieces. And she built what turned out to be a rainbow during a LEGO charades game.
“They’re learning good skills but they just don’t see it yet,” Green said.
LEGO Education — the arm of the toy company that works with schools — calls using its product in a robotic context “ideal” for science, technology, engineering and math learning.
“Robotics challenges not only allow students to apply their STEM learning to new problems, but also help students to see the purpose of STEM learning,” the company’s website says.
‘A lot of people think of LEGOs as just toys but as we get older and start building stuff at home, you still have to follow the basics of reading directions and following directions.’— Briana Green, English teacher at Kelloggsville’s Virtual High School
Speed, distance and time can be explored using robot cars, or can be used in a science context to design and build experimental equipment, according to the company.
Other projects the group has done include building a race car then using the air from a deflating balloon to push it along.
More advanced projects are to come. Students will start using robotics and coding to make their LEGO creations move and light up.
The program could be a launching pad for the students’ further interest in STEM-related fields. Kelloggsville High School has its own Introduction to Robotics course, launched in 2020, that includes 3D printing. The course prepares them for robotics competitions.