Think that fourth and fifth graders are too young to understand robotics? Think again. Through Blazing Stars Academy, Clinton City Schools’ after school program, students at Sunset Avenue Elementary School are using Legos to bring to life their very own robots, all while honing their skills and learning numerous science lessons in the process.
The Lego project, which has been going strong for about three years now, is a favorite activity among Sunset Avenue students, according to Tammy Faison, Blazing Stars site coordinator and parent liaison at Sunset Avenue. “Yes, they really like it.”
“They just love making things, taking nothing and creating something. It also gives them a break from the regimented format of their day,” added Christopher Todd, a seventh-grade Language Arts teacher at Union Middle School who comes to Sunset Avenue Monday through Thursday of each week to help with the efforts of the after school program.
“This is Mr. Todd’s first year with Blazing Stars and he’s just wonderful. He loves science,” mentioned Faison.
As she pulled out the many boxes of colorful Legos used by the students, Faison explained that each Lego kit comes with everything the students to need to create their own robots. “Each kit comes with a book that shows the students how to build different things. They decide and pick which one they want to build and the book guides them in putting it together.”
Building robots with the Legos is not only fun for the students, but the hands-on activity also helps to enhance their skills, Faison noted. “Working with the Legos helps them improve their motor and mechanical skills.”
“It also helps them with their memory skills,” added Faison as she pointed out how complex some of the instructions can be.
Impressed, Faison admitted that before the Lego project, “I didn’t realize you could make so many things with Legos.”
Because there is such a variety of objects that the students can make with the Legos, many lessons in science are taught and learned.”The primary function of the Lego project is to enforce the curriculum that is taught at Sunset Avenue,” explained Todd. “People may look at the Legos as a toy but it allows the kids to create things like cars which can then be used to help teach function, move-ability, speed, distance, motion.”
“For example, the Lego kits come with magnets which we can use to help teach the kids about magnetic force and how that can create motion,” Todd added.
“Since the Lego projects have moveable parts, the kids also learn what works and what doesn’t,” continued Todd. “They get to learn and discover how things work on their own.”
The after school program features two sessions, with each one lasting about 50 minutes. Despite the limited amount of time, the students often complete their projects by the end of the day. “They don’t always get to work with the Legos. It just depends on the lesson plan that Mr. Todd has for that week. However, they usually finish in one session,” said Faison. “They work individually but they also work together in groups sometimes too.”
“They have gotten so fast at making things,” added Todd. “It’s something they really enjoy.”
While the after school Lego project at Sunset Avenue is a success, Todd mentioned that the program still has its challenges. Currently, “we have probably a total of 85 to 100 Lego kits. There is one Lego box for every two kids. We’re hoping to get more kits because with more Legos we can involve more kids.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.