The Click-A-Brick crew has high praise for a program that uses building blocks to not only teach children science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, but also teaches them to use those skills to solve real world problems affecting the Earth today.
First Lego Junior League uses the popular building toy to encourage children to think about ways to solve major problems and build simple, motorized machines to deal with them while adhering to core values of celebrating discovery, using teamwork and displaying gracious professionalism.
The 2015-2016 Waste Wise Challenge sees over 34,500 children ages 6-9 from 18 different countries brainstorming and coming up with ways to deal with various aspects of the world’s waste problem.
For example, a team of Grade 2 and 3 students at Oklahoma’s Glenwood Elementary School is using the building toy to try and tackle the problem that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of waste and debris estimated to be larger than the state of Texas, floating in the Pacific Ocean where multiple ocean currents meet. The students are tasked with figuring out how to extract the trash from the ocean and then what to do with it once it’s out.
Second-grade teacher at Glenwood Elementary Hollee Terry says the students are not limited by the rationale displayed by adults, which gives them an advantage.
“The thing I love about working with their little minds is they don’t have the, ‘Well, we can’t do that. That’s not possible. That material’s not out there.’ They just think, ‘Why can’t we do this?’” Terry said in a news report about the initiative. “These kids sit here and we have tossed back and forth different ideas of what will work and won’t work. It’s the same skill set: making those connections and figuring out those problems. It creates thinkers. These kids have information at their fingertips. What we need to do is teach and train the kids how to think about the information presented. They have to understand what to do with that information.”
Using building blocks to teach kids how to tackle real-world problems is a brilliant idea and shows the basic toy’s usefulness in developing practical STEM skills at an early age, Click-A-Brick Co-Founder Jason Smith says.
“With all the fancy electronic toys out there, it’s good to see that basic building toys are still the most useful tool we have to imbibe young minds with STEM skills,” Smith said. “But it goes beyond just giving them the skills necessary to tackle current and future problems, they also get experience they can use in the real world. There is a satisfying feeling for people when they are able to imagine and build something that solves a problem and even if it’s on a small scale like these projects obviously are, that can instill confidence in young people that their ideas are valuable and can solve real issues we are currently facing.”