With Legos, the only limit is one’s imagination.
But extra gears and gadgets sure help kids’ creations take on a whole new life.
About 15 Faribault elementary students stopped by Roosevelt Elementary School Thursday for the latest classes of Extreme STEM: ‘Copters and Spy Planes, presented by the Youth Enrichment League and Faribault’s Community Education. Every Thursday for four weeks, the kids are tasked with building a new moving Lego machine.
“The kids are learning basic engineering concepts and today they’re putting gears together to build an airplane,” class instructor Krista Weaver said. “The great part with Legos is they’re so versatile, even ones from the past. Kids know what Legos are … and here they get to use a lot of parts that aren’t in most regular sets.”
The main difference between the class and regular Lego sets are the gears. Each day the kids have made different projects, including a paddle boat and a car, that use different gears and pieces to make the project move.
For the first five minutes of class, Weaver goes over what the kids will use for the day. Afterward, they grab their kits and step-by-step instruction booklets and get to work, many with a partner. Weaver said that along with the engineering aspect, YEL classes try to focus on social skills as well.
The instructor spends time checking out the kids’ progress and answering questions whenever they arise.
“On the first day I asked the kids where they see gears (around the house). They’ve seen them in places like bicycles and clocks, they’ve seen them in real life but they don’t know what it does,” Weaver said. “(In class) they’re building airplanes but also getting hands-on experience with gears.”
Eight-year-old Ian Johnson is the proud owner of a basket full of Legos, and he recently built a robot at his house. However, what he built in class was a brand new experience.
“(The robot), I can only make it move when I’m using my hands,” Johnson said. “But the car we built moves on its own. You roll it backward and then it goes forward. You have to be careful … putting the car together, and I think the plane is going to be even funner.”
Hattie Danberry, 7, another Lego enthusiast who has “one room just full of Legos” back home, said that she used instructions to connect the Legos and gears together in the previous class. Her prior experience with the building blocks helped her build the car, but as most kids know, there can be a few bumps along the way.
“You have to take your time and (measure) how long the piece is. I put this piece on but then I realized it was a little bit too long. I was supposed to have four (of the same piece) at the end, so I knew it was not the right piece,” Danberry said. “Sometimes you have to go back a step because sometimes you forget a piece. That’s the great part about Legos; you can do it all over again.”