LEARNING BY MAKING: SCEF-FUNDED LEGO KITS BRING NEW ENGINEERING SKILLS TO BRITTAN ACRES STUDENTS

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The highlight of Kelsey Murray’s second grade year at Brittan Acres was working on a SCEF-funded Lego engineering project spearheaded by her teacher, Mrs. Corea. Kelsey wrote, “My favorite second grade memory is doing Legos. My friend Sheri and I made a airplane. I like Legos because it lets us use our imagination. Room 15 has very cool Lego kits.” For the last seventeen years, Mrs. Corea has drawn on special NASA training to teach her students science, engineering and math principles using Lego Education Kits. After years of use her Lego collection was in need of an update, and thanks to the SCEF Educator Innovation Grant she was able to purchase twelve new Lego WeDo Construction kits. With the added Lego kits her lessons reached not only students in her classroom, but the entire second grade at Brittan Acres. Students followed computer-based instructions to build the Lego models and program them to operate per their instructions. They then watched as power and data were transmitted from the computer to and from their model’s motors and sensors, bringing their project to life. Models ranged from a mechanical alligator that could be programmed to open and close its jaw while making crunching sounds, to a motorized soccer goal keeper that could move back and forth to block a paper ball from a goal, to an airplane with a motorized propeller and a tilt sensor that would make motor sounds when pointed up and clonking sounds when pointed down.

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SCEF’s funding for the Lego WeDo kits ensured all Brittan Acres second grade students would have a real and valuable hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) experience. Using technology and working together, students learned engineering skills by building, writing code for, and testing their models. They expanded science skills as they identified simple machine mechanisms at work, including levers, gears and pulleys. Math skills grew as students discussed timing, measurement, symmetry, and angles in their designs. Mrs. Corea noted that assembling the Lego kits enabled her students to become “problem solvers, critical thinkers, risk-takers, designers, collaborators, and innovators.” Not to mention they had fun while doing it, and learning engineering skills became a highlight of their year.

 

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