I’ll confess that my first visit to LEGOLAND California, took place about 15 years ago.
As a child, going to LEGOLAND was a big deal. I remember my mom telling me to pack my favorite snacks, and bring bathing suits in case we decided to visit the waterpark that just opened. Even though I lived in Los Angeles at the time, the drive to San Diego felt extremely long. With traffic, bathroom breaks, and the excitement I couldn’t wait to get out of the van.
Unfortunately, my family and I had the misfortune of visiting the park on one of those rare California winter days when it rained in San Diego. In addition to getting drenched while navigating our way through the park, we also faced unimaginable lines, which resulted in us skipping the two-story aquarium and of course, the amusement rides.
Although our initial visit wasn’t the most pleasant experience due to the weather, the trip to LEGOLAND has left an everlasting imprint. For starters, it introduced me to the world of creativity. Seeing what people could build out of LEGOS was breathtaking as a child, and I dreamed of being a part of it. I didn’t know it yet, but my obsession with LEGOS would expose me to the world of science, engineering, engineering, and mathematics.
STEM education refers to an educational approach which integrates more than one of these disciplines. STEM lessons might seem similar to science lessons and experiments, and in most ways, they are. After all, basic science is hands-on and prevalent to the topic being discussed.
Here are five characteristics of a great STEM lesson using LEGOS. I hope you’ll use these lessons to collaborate with other teachers and students to create lectures that apply technology to other subjects.
Making Blocks Smarter
STEM lessons that focus on coding: The Lego Company recently launched a new building and coding set that brings movement to LEGOS. Computer coding with LEGO is a great way to introduce students to the world of coding by using a favorite building toy. Yes, educators can teach young kids about computer coding, especially if they’re highly interested in the subject.
How can you combine computer language and LEGO?
As a matter of fact, there are a few ways teachers can combine computer skills with LEGOS for the younger generation depending on their skill level. For instance, the new LEGO Bits and Bricks, is part of the hour of code initiative that’s aimed towards kids as young as 5 and 6 to help get them excited about computers. This set also includes a binary alphabet, which allows young children to understand the code language.
Teachers might also like the Superhero Computer Coding Game (no computer needed). The set allows students to create a world with obstacles and make movement cards that give the LEGOS movement as they move in a different direction.
STEM lessons that immerse children in hands-on inquiry:
Generally speaking, in STEM lessons, the path to learning is endless. By conducting hands-on learning activities using LEGOS, students are given the opportunity to consider what they have learned through various construction activities. Meaning that through contemplation, students are able to ask reflective questions about both the content and the process of their learning. These questions are designed to help students and educators alike, gain awareness of the process in which they’re engaged in. It also encourages students to continue to explore new ways to go about finding solutions to different challenges that come in the future.
This type of learning has also helped teachers discover that students have a wider context for understanding the material rather than just listening to a lecture or memorizing important facts.
Create lessons that allow for multiple right answers:
STEM classes almost always provide an opportunity for multiple right answers and different approaches. This is the type of environment that offers rich possibilities for creative solutions. When educators design and test these prototypes, groups may fail to solve the problem at first. That’s okay, since students are expected to learn from what went wrong, and try to piece the answers together. Remember, failure is considered a positive step towards designing and discovering.
Although I never taught any STEM subject, I did, however, use LEGO blocks to build community amongst the elementary student I worked with during my internship. Sometimes I designed projects so that all groups replicated the same results. A process I think would be an effective way to integrate STEM into K-12 curriculum.
STEM lessons that let the student’s imagination soar:
Race cars, bridges, and skyscrapers don’t build themselves. They need dreamers. Along with problem solvers, and thinkers. In other words, engineers. Toying around and experimenting with LEGO extends beyond childhood play time. These blocks, in fact, present a hands-on opportunity to learn the basics of structural engineering. A career field that requires experts to examine similar questions while crafting bridges, buildings, cars, homes, and other larger structures.
In the young engineering world of LEGOS, children will take on the fun, and embrace the challenges that await. To put it another way, the core of every LEGO task involves building. By actively learning through various tactile experience, students construct knowledge in their minds that will drive them later on down the road.
Produce lessons that involve productive teamwork:
Helping students work together as a unit has never been an easy job for educators. However, it becomes much easier if all STEM teachers at a particular school work together to implement camaraderie, using the same language, and expectations for students. That being said, if teachers wish to jump start on building specific teamwork skills, it always helps to rely on group projects. Allowing students to play with LEGOS expands their mind, and also allows everyone involved to show just how creative they are.
So, as the world becomes increasingly run by technologies, LEGO materials can be used as a way to influence STEM subjects. All the components are developed in close collaboration with education officials and teachers, with a special focus on the need for making learning both fun and motivating; while also holding the core values of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
As a final point, with good resources and proper training, you can open up a world of STEM for your students. Who knows, the seed you plant now could change not only their future, but ours as well.
Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything important? What are some other ways educators can motivate students to consider STEM subjects? Feel free to leave a comment.