It fair took us back to a childhood of scrabbling around for different sized LEGO© bricks in a battered biscuit tin, when we walked into the Cooperative Learning Centre on Tuesday morning to see the busy workshop taking place. The brightly lit space was a hive of focused activity with youngsters designing and building racing cars from LEGO© before taking them to the Theatre of Dreams in the concourse there to hear the words beloved of any teenager: ‘Gentlemen – You may start your engines’. College Librarian and impresario, Jane O’Loughlin, who came up with the wheeze, takes up the tale…
The combination of Science and Bricks4Kidz was the perfect formula for active learning on Tuesday. The good folk from Bricks 4 Kidz in Ireland provided the boys with the tools to learn to think critically and creatively through LEGO© Education brick sets. The idea is to nurture the pupils’ analytical skills at the same time as stimulating their blossoming creativity in a workshop aligned to the STEM curriculum.
The session began with a discussion on the design of a dragster racing car by comparing it to a regular car and taking account of its aerodynamic shape, acceleration capacity, fuel requirement and parachute need for slowing down. Now better informed about the dynamics of this racing car the students launched into building their own dragsters using individual kits of LEGO© supplied by Bricks4Kidz. Assembly offered many challenges to the students with regard to following instructions, interpreting visual graphics, identifying component parts, applying fine motor skills, making mistakes, seeking help, problem solving, learning patience and trying again.
For some students it was their first time to use LEGO©, while for others they were being introduced to a more exciting version of LEGO©, the added excitement being the addition of cogs and a motor. The more expert builders were helpful to their peers as were Bricks4Kidz facilitator Elaine Bowden and her assistant, John. Also on hand were our new Lab Technician, Ms Ashling Quine and School Librarian, Ms Jane O’Loughlin. Students were engaged and focused for the duration of the session with those finishing ahead of schedule spending time customising their cars with additional LEGO© pieces to give it the edge in the upcoming Grand Prix (so to speak).
The race at the end of each session gave another dimension of fun as each student launched his car cheering it forward to the finish line for nothing but the glory of winning. Building success, exuberance and smiles stamped approval on the school’s first Bricks4Kids session; it’s unlikely to be its last!