Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is Lego class?

Ann asked why Iris needs to attend a class to put together Legos. That's a good question. I thought I would show you some samples of stuff she puts together in her weekly class at Mr. B's Bricks.

Last Spring, she did the simple machines series of experiments using an older version of the Mindstorms set. The Lego didactic materials are very impressive. The kids are given a booklet that shows, step-by-step, how to put together a project. At some steps, there are little characters on the side (like in IKEA assembly instructions) jumping up and down (pay attention) or scratching their head (what is going on here?).

When she reaches those steps, the instructor walks over to discuss the things she is supposed to notice or try. (I imagine the teachers' manual goes into more detail than the student booklets.) Then, the kids are given a problem that is not shown in the students' booklet and left alone to work out a solution. Whenever my schedule allows it, I stay for class and work independent of Iris. Let's just say the puzzles are challenging. One time, I got a different solution than the 7 year old kid beside me--and it took me longer. Mr. B said that the boy came up with the most common solution and I came up with the second most common solution. (See what I mean about the teacher's manual?)

Anyway, the teachers are around and available, but do not interfere with the kids' exploration. They help only when asked or if the kids are ready for the 'challenge' problem/puzzle.

You can see some of the projects on my Google videos page. Look for the ones uploaded last spring.

In the current Fall session, she is using the MSM Motorized Simple Machines kit.

This is a pumpkin for Halloween and a project that teaches the relationship between gear ratios and torque. I have a longer video in which Iris explains how the gear ratios determine how hard it is to stop the turntable. Alas, it is over 100 Mb and I can't upload it. It is really cute.

Here is a partially built conveyor belt.

Eventually, the kids will graduate up to the Lego robotics kit. They will learn how to write computer programs that control the robots. The kids can also join a competitive Lego team. I wasn't aware before this that there was a competitive Lego league.

Most of the pupils at Mr. B's Bricks are boys. When I pick Iris up early from daycare on Fridays for Lego, one of Iris' (girl) school friends keeps saying how much she wants to go, too. I asked her dad if she could take the class the same time as Iris. I even offered to walk the girl to her house after class.

The father scoffed, "$100 to watch a kid play with Legos? What a ripoff!" ($100 for 8 semi-private 1-hour lessons with individually tailored curricula.) Then he got into his Lexus and drove off. I drive a Toyota (and Mark rides a bike), which is why we have money left over to pay Mr. B.


  1. Anonymous08:14

    Lego competitions were huge when I lived in NY. A lot of my coworkers were involved.

  2. You and Iris might enjoy watching this YouTube video:

  3. Boo for that father! Iris is lucky to have parents who are looking out for her welfare and development as much as you and your husband are.


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.