Kids Summer Camps | Lego Education Centre Mumbai | Summer Activities for Children | Kids Summer Camps Activities for Children

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August 9, 2018
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SUMMER CAMP 2018

The Curiosity Club kicked off an incredibly busy and productive summer with the concept – “Maker Workshops” – camps curated to provide a stimulating experience exploring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts.

The aim of our camps was to engage young kids by exposing them to STEM approach of learning through hands-on experiences, challenges, and projects in an environment designed to be supporting, enriching and most importantly – FUN! Our week-long camps catered to ages 3.5 all the way up to 9 years of age with workshops in LEGO, coding, robotics and engineering. These workshops focused on 21st century life skills – Creativity, Communication, Critical thinking and Collaboration.

 

         

Highlights                                                                         

  • A LEGO and coding camp was conducted for our ‘Toddler Scientists’ aged 3.5 to 4 years. Children explored coding with a wooden robot, Cubetto, specially designed to teach children the basics of programming without the need for literacy or screen devices.
  • In our Robotics and Engineering camp, normally perceived to a boy related activity, we were pleasantly surprised to see a large number of girls. From playing snakes and ladders and drawing shapes with robots for the younger children, to creating a robot that played football and competed in a sumo wrestling competition, children explored the unlimited possibilities of robots.
  • The Engineering boot camp was the new features of our summer programs. These camps introduced children in the 6-9 years age group to basic engineering concepts like circuits, gears and sensors among various engineering disciplines such as civil, aerospace, electrical and robotics engineering.
  • The Storybook Science workshop for 4 to 6 year olds was another new introduction and children thoroughly enjoyed this format of learning. This camp featured hands-on activities and lessons inspired from famous children’s stories such as Three Little Pigs. Children solved problems and created objects with LEGO and other material, while understanding the science behind these stories.

March 27, 2018
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Educators are increasingly of the belief that focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) alone overlooks several important components that parents, and employers believe are necessary to succeed in the present as well as quickly evolving future. This has resulted in the STEM to STEAM movement that is popularly viewed as a positive step towards meeting the needs of 21st century economic demands.

What is STEAM?

Simply put, STEAM is an educational approach that relies not only on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for learning but also the Arts as an access point for guiding inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking in students. It is a holistic approached which helps hone students into taking calculated risks, being more open to collaboration, adopting a problem-solving approach, engaging in experiential learning and working creatively.

Georgette Yakman, the founding researcher and creator of STEAM, describes it as “science and technology interpreted through engineering and the arts, all based in mathematical elements.”

The STEM vs. STEAM approach

Traditionally, schools that have been able to successfully introduce STEM programs into their curriculum have received significant appreciation. It was designed to be a program that integrates and applies the knowledge of math and science to solve real world challenges. Some important components schools focused on and implemented were

  • Providing real-world context
  • Using the engineering design process to solve problems
  • Encouraging hands-on exploration within each discipline of STEM
  • Use of technology to support learning
  • Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities to promote STEM
  • Focus on 21st century skills such as teamwork, critical thinking and communication

While students within STEM programs are able to exploit experiential learning opportunities, they are limited only to the four disciplines that fall under it. In today’s day and age, there is a dire need of talent that is able to go beyond the basic understanding of these areas, relying on the keen sense of application, creation and ingenuity.

History gives us the best example of STEAM in action. Leonardo da Vinci, creator of the famous Mona Lisa painting, was also a renowned inventor, engineer and scientist, and conceptualized the helicopter and the battle tank.

STEAM allows educators to retain the benefits of STEM and add the missing link – the arts. STEAM allows students to connect their learning with practices in arts, design principles and other elements to benefit from a variety of learning tools that are now put at their disposal. Including arts into the bag promotes further collaboration across all disciplines.

How can Educators Adopt STEAM Based Learning?

For schools to be able to effectively incorporate a STEAM based curriculum, they need to take into consideration a few of the following factors –

  • A cross-section of teachers in every team that facilitate collaborative planning
  • Training and professional development of the entire staff in the principles and practices of STEAM-based learning
  • Designing of seamless lesson implementation strategies and processes

Some educators are still skeptical about including the arts into a tried, tested combination of STEM. However, others argue that STEAM is about sparking the imagination of students and helping them innovatively approach STEM projects in a hands-on manner. The core objective of this approach is to apply creative thinking and design skills into STEM projects in a way that students can come up a variety of ways to use STEM skills effectively well into their adulthood.


February 14, 2018
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As time passes, many parents find that their children, who absolutely enjoyed storytelling as a way to connect with their family, get more reluctant to participate in such face to face activities. Many start to get embarrassed or feel that they are too old for pretend play. The fact is, there is no such thing as being “too old” for storytelling.

Storytelling as an Activity

Children are innately designed to love stories. Stories have a sense of magic and open up doors of wonder to an entirely new world. Furthermore, stories teach us about life, people around us, and even about ourselves. Storytelling as an activity has proven to help children develop language skills, comprehension and sense of respect for others.

  • Improving language and communication skills

Story telling is a great tool to increase a child’s willingness to communicate one’s own feelings and thoughts. Furthermore, it encourages active participation which has a direct effect on verbal proficiency. Storytelling encourages creativity, imagination and, when done as a group activity, increases cooperation between children while improving their listening skills.

  • Inter-cultural Understanding

Enhanced communication and intercultural understanding are probably the most evident effects storytelling can have on a child. Stories allow children to strengthen their own culture roots while also experiencing diverse cultures. It enables children to empathise with situations, people and places that are unfamiliar to them. Storytelling helps children gain insights on universal life experiences while taking into consideration new ideas.

Making Storytelling Activities a Way of Life

As parents and educators, we can bring together a number of elements to make storytelling a fascinating bonding and learning activity for all. Here are some of them –

  • Mapping the plot as a memory building technique
  • Remembering and retelling the plot of the story
  • Using story skeletons to help remember all the key events
  • Reciting the story in your own words
  • Thinking of the plot as a series of connected images or a film
  • Adapting and improvising by creating your own version of a story

Using LEGO as a Storytelling Tool for Kids


  • We often think of LEGO as a tool to build mechanical objects, and not so much as something to express thoughts and develop language and communication skills. Including LEGO in your storytelling adventure is a great way to bring your child’s imagination to life.  Every LEGO brick can be translated into a story; it’s really upon the imagination and creativity of the child. The best part about LEGO is that each child can build something and have a story to it. The idea is to encourage them to explain what they have built.Seymour Papert, the father of the constructionism theory, argued that learning happens best when tangible objects are made, making building, and thereby learning, experiential. Children use the information they already have to create new knowledge. Extending on this philosophy, when we let children build models to express their thoughts, the stories become a lot more elaborate than they were when children started building them. Children are essentially creating stories with their hands!Here are a few tips to consider when you are relying on these bricks as a part of your storytelling activities.
    1. Encouraging Touch and Feel

    After working on the creation, encourage your child to move it around, make it walk, flip it, roll it. Anything that gives your child’s creation some life. Don’t worry about the creation crumbling in his hands.

    1. Asking Questions

    For some kids, storytelling may get easier if you ask them a few leading questions. Find ways to bring out the details that may be rolling around in the mind of the creator. This may be just the way to get the story started. Ask open ended questions such as, “I notice that the bunny has one green and one blue ear, can you tell me more about that?” or “I bet this aeroplane has been to many places, can you tell me about all the wonderful places it has travelled to?”.

    1. Getting a Story Started

    Give children themes to start with, for instance, “What did you do this weekend?” “once upon a time”  Or a feild trip from school. Use the LEGO creation as a source of inspiration when creating a story. Assess how far you can go into a story before the child who created it chooses to jump in to add plots, details and other information into your story. If you ended up completing the entire story on your own, that is fine as well. You may have sown a seed of an idea in your little one about how to create his own story the next time around.

    1. Inventing your Own Version of a Story

    Showcase to the kids that a single subject can inspire a number of other plotlines or ideas for stories. Ask every child to create their own version and then have go yourself after everyone is done. You can choose to change the entire story based on the LEGO creations or just change a few parts. However, remember the focus shouldn’t be on improving their storylines. The idea is to maintain the same length and being conservative about the amazing details you may be able to put in with a mind of an adult.

    1. Creating Stop Action Movies

    Blending technology with LEGO is a fun way to keep the millennial child interested. Prop up a camera right by your child’s favourite building space. You may even want to teach him how to make a simple stop action movie. This technique is amazing for children who are shy or embarrassed to participate in a face to face storytelling session. Furthermore, children find satisfaction in being able to go back and revisit their creation and watch it come to life.

    Consider adding a round of group storytelling into your list of activities even if it is a small family participating or a group of neighbourhood kids. With LEGO the world is your oyster!


January 24, 2018
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Constructionism and instructionism are modern day educational approaches that educators around the world are talking about. Instructionism refers to the ideology that for better education one must improve instruction. Constructionism focuses on giving children good things to do with an aim that they can learn better by doing.

Relying on Tools for Effective Constructionism

Modern day learning tools and education toys are extremely rich in offering to children a chance to do as they learn concepts. Within STEM skills, these tools allow them to learn math and science as a part of something that is real. For instance, learning math at school is very unlike how math is used in the real world. Out in the world engineers, scientists and bankers are using math to build bridges, understand how the world around works and to make money.

Within a classroom, however, children seldom make something with math. They simply sit in class and write numbers on a board or a piece of paper. With tools such as LEGO, educators can give children a chance to use math to actually create something interesting. With LEGO, it is possible to change a child’s relationship with math to make it more like the one a banker, scientist or engineer has with the subject.

LEGO in the Classroom

Students and adults of all ages absolutely enjoy playing with LEGO. While many think of them as play, these coloured plastic blocks offer fantastic support for learning. Here are a few activities that you could introduce in your class room for enhanced Math learning. We hope these will get you thinking about many more ways to introduce math concepts to little children across all ages.

  • Subtraction Tower (For Grade 1)

To play this game, all you need is the LEGO DUPLO set or the classic blocks along with a die. Have every player build a tower with 10 LEGO bricks. Depending on how advanced the class is, you may choose to use more or less bricks for the tower. Also, this game is perfect for a large group of students who are about the same age and have the same ability level. Have each player roll the die and take that many LEGO bricks off their tower. Ask the class to take turns rolling the die and removing the blocks until there are none left. The student to unstack their tower first is the winner.

This is a great activity for students to understand math through play. Ask them to speak out the math equation or elaborate to you the reason behind why they are removing X number of bricks. For instance, if a student with 10 bricks rolls a 3, ask him to say “10-3=7” or “I had 10 LEGO bricks, I had to take off 3 and now I have 7 in my tower.


The Subtraction Tower

  • Multiplication
  • LEGO is a great way to introduce multiplication in very hands on manner, making learning more conceptual rather than only memorization.Children count the studs on LEGO bricks to figure out the multiplication equation. For example, a standard LEGO break with 8 studs, is actually 4 across, and 2 down, making it 4×2=8. Similarly, using two LEGO bricks one has 4×4=16, or if placed differently 8×2=16.
  • Fractions (Grade 3 through 8)
  • LEGO bricks are great manipulatives and an excellent tool to review a variety of math concepts. Students often find the concept of fractions rather challenging to understand. LEGO bricks help physically elaborate the difference between a whole and its part.This idea can eventually be expanded to aid students practice additions of fractions.

Learning fractions with LEGO

Some classroom management tips

  • Prepare LEGO sets in advance for each child to use before the session. Have assorted coloured bricks in each bag, to avoid quibbles for specific brick colours.
  • Have each student use the same set during each class. This will give the student ownership of the material.
  • Provide lids with edges for children to work on so that LEGO bricks don’t fall off the table. Alternatively, work on the floor.

As educators, it is upon to find tools that enable children to use the knowledge they learn and not just store it in their brains because it may be useful several years down the line. We all like to learn concepts because we can use what we have learned as a form of instant gratification. Introducing LEGO in the classroom helps achieve just that.




January 10, 2018
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LEGO has been widely adopted in households with children for decades now, primarily acting as a creative outlet for children during their hours spent at home. From an academic context, parents are most familiar with LEGO only because of the largescale competitions that take place at a high school level or in an engineering program at college levels. Few people know that these building blocks can even play a significant role in early learning and elementary schools.

How Can Schools Incorporate LEGO-based Learning into Teaching Approaches?

In addition to offering a chance to manipulate the colours, structures and sizes of these blocks, LEGO comes with the ability to engage the creative brain. From a teaching perspective, it opens doors to exceptional instructional capabilities that facilitate effective teaching of concepts for children under 12. Consider some of the common learning objectives educators need to achieve for this age group –

  • Spatial Reasoning and Building

From the ages 3 and up, one of the most critical skills that children are expected to master is spatial reasoning. This skill helps students familiarize themselves with context, height, width and eventually learn how to recreate relatively complex models. LEGO allows for creative reinforcement of these skills that eventually form a foundation for their STEM skills.


  • Building Blocks for STEM Skills

From the basic DUPLO blocks to the more complex robotic sets for older students, LEGO helps create a foundation for enhanced understanding of concepts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). By advancing a student’s spatial and motor skills, construction toys help in creating a strong foundation for advanced concepts in engineering and architecture.

Beyond elementary level education, LEGO robotics sets act as a great tool to introduce the basics in coding and programming to middle school students. These skills are increasingly critical in today’s digital world. Furthermore, LEGO based learning facilitates three-dimensional thinking, that is critical to understand a variety of concepts in science.


  • Introducing Concepts in Math in the Classroom
  • Mathematics is often perceived as dreary by students right from an elementary level. LEGO is an excellent tool for educators who are combating this problem. While studies have shown that earlier introduction to concepts in math may not necessarily make them easier to grasp as a child grows, LEGO bricks on the other hand provide students with some context and subsequently a chance to manipulate and truly understand the nature of addition, subtraction, geometry and other math skills that are otherwise difficult to grasp using solely a blackboard.Educators can rely on structured building with LEGO sets that allows students to learn sorting skills – a rather simple but extremely valuable skill in math. Educators often find that students tend to perform far better when they have something to manipulate when a specific concept is being introduced. LEGO offers a chance to work hands-on with material. For instance, creating pattern games with two colour blocks, then three and then four. The complexity of the pattern goes up with the child’s age. By performing simple tasks such as addition and subtraction of blocks from a structure, students can experience first-hand, the real-world applications of various math skills while also providing for them a point of reference when they are expected to solve these math problems in writing.

  • Language Development
  • Studies show that speech and language skills are best developed in a learning environment that is rich with sights, sounds and consistent exposure to verbal inputs. Imagine a classroom where a child is given tools to create a perfect situation that not only fires up his or her imagination, but also encourages them to tell stories.  With LEGO bricks, a child is able to plan anything from an intergalactic battle to trip to a shopping mall with the LEGO Friends sets. The LEGO Education Story Starter and Story Tales set are designed to help children understand how to create and structure stories with a beginning, a body and the end, while having fun with bricks.Educators today are relying on LEGO blocks to introduce a world of concepts such as alphabets, transportation, habitats, animals, lifecycles, etc. By allowing kids to build their own alphabets with LEGO, create animals such as giraffes or even frogs, they can translate learning into models, eventually building their vocabulary and memorizing concepts better. Along the way, they pick up on interesting facts, for instance, that a giraffe has a blue tongue, while having simultaneous visual stimulus to support these learnings.

  • Making your Students Successful Problem Solvers While one may argue that the structured play attached to following the directions of a LEGO set doesn’t truly encourage creativity, what it truly does is help develop impeccable problem-solving skills. There is sufficient scope for teachers and students to manipulate the ready sets and model instructions to add newer layers of innovation in their creations.Teachers find it valuable to coach students to find ways through trial and error in finding the right blocks to construct a specific object or shape. These activities in school environments can help students learn how to work through problems and arrive at a solution, or sometimes even alternative solutions.Encouraging the building of creations to specific instructions helps create a collaborative approach to problem solving, which is without doubt a critical skill to inculcate for academic as well as professional success in the future.Finally, the universal popularity of LEGO among boys and girls makes it a central gathering point in any class room, contributing to the enhancement of various social skills such as language and collaborative play. The social skills that LEGO help develop are critical to the future educational success of a child right from kindergarten and through life.



April 23, 2017
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What is robotics? Is it important for children to be exposed to robotics? How will they benefit from this? At what age should children learn about robotics? Should it be introduced only to children who are really interested, or to everyone?

When I started with the idea of a STEM-based activity centre, robotics was obviously at the back of my mind as something I wanted to introduce soon. However, I didn’t know what it really was till I trained myself with LEGO WeDo and Mindstorms. WeDo was cool, but Mindstorms became addictive. I kept wanting to build more structures and challenge myself to more complicated mechanisms and programs. It wasn’t just about building and coding, but about recreating real life objects into simple experiential learning toys – something that I didn’t have at all when I grew up.

Robotics was something every parents around me was interested in. After several conversations, though, I realized that not everyone understood what it really is. From our experiences of teaching children robotics, we have put together a brief summary of why we think this is something every parent should seriously consider for their children. Robotics is no more just a ‘good-to-have’ extracurricular activity; it equips children with skills important for life regardless of career choice. It’s really the perfect way for children to experience what goes behind creating the technology they use!

The word “robot” conjures up the image of a human-like electronic person with a face, voice, arms and legs. Although these Hollywood figures are one type of robot, a robot is simply a mechanical device that replaces human effort. There are three essential parts to a robot: (1) the ability to sense things just like we do – touch sensors, chemical sensors, pressure sensors, colour sensors, etc., (2) the ability to process the information like our brain does, (i.e. programmable) and (3) the ability to move or react as the brain tells us to. Robots need the ability to follow programmed instructions and not just be controlled remotely, differentiating them from algorithms and automated systems like chatbots.

Why is Robotics important for children to learn?
1. It’s fun – Learn while you play

At an introductory robotics session, three 6-year old children were building a race car with LEGO WeDo. Available in the set were tyres of different sizes and type which would impact the speed of the car. In addition to programming the car with a motion sensor, the children had to figure out which tyres would make the car go faster.

Hear the word cars and kids want to race them – and that’s just what they did. As they competed to make their car win, they ended up learning about effect of size and type of tyres on speed and also learned how to program a winning car. Kids ended up learning a lot, while in their heads they were just playing.

2. Problem solving skills

On the last day of our 5 day summer camp, children were asked to build their own sumo wrestler robots; the goal wasn’t just to stay within the ring, but to try and push the other one out or topple it over. This problem-based learning method fosters integration and application of knowledge, and as mentioned above, nothing is without a huge fun element.

So here, it wasn’t about building a moving robot, but one that was stable and also had arms to knock over the opponent. Making stable robots with ‘weapons’ helped hone the building skills they had acquired during the camp, and the challenge of building without instructions helped bring out their creativity.

3. Programming enhances the ability to think logically – an important life skill

Much unlike our childhood, our children are growing up in a world where digital technology like cell phones, computers and even toys is deeply embedded in their daily lives. It is one thing to know how to use these, but another to know the logic behind them. Coding helps kids understand the ‘magic’ behind everyday technology.

Let’s go back to the same robotic car we talked about earlier. Using the motion sensor, children were supposed to program the car to make it move only when the barrier was lifted, and the car had to stop if it sensed an approaching obstacle. This step by step programming helps children develop the ability to think logically. As programs get more complex, such as automatic maze solver with ultrasonic sensors, children’s ability to put series of simultaneous steps together develops further.

At what age should one introduce robotics to children?

Introducing children to robotics at an early age creates a fascination for the subject – it’s just fun for them to see a car which can be programmed and controlled through an iPad. As they get older, at around the age of 6 years, they can be introduced to the programming. Their minds are ready to put simple steps together. Eventually, complexity increases – there are multiple motors, multiple sensors and more complex programming. What is important is that they should be able to relate to the objects they are building. Building and programming objects like a vending machine or maze solver robot gives them immense sense of satisfaction and achievement.


February 23, 2017
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Breaking the gender bias – why girls should play with LEGO and other construction toys, as much as boys do

At The Curiosity Club we teach science concepts to children using LEGO and other construction toys. From building with Duplo, children move on to LEGO, and then on to robotics, enhancing their building skills with programming. After describing this to parents, I have often heard responses such as “So it’s for boys! Do you have anything for girls?” It upset me, but it also got me thinking about how LEGO and other building blocks are perceived, and the need to break this stereotype. The Curiosity Club believes that we should not differentiate between games for boys and those for girls. In today’s world, both in school and in the workplace, girls and boys both compete at the same level and we need to treat and prepare both equally.

In a previous blog we talked about how children learn can learn science concepts through LEGO-play. The most important skill that STEM helps develop is problem-solving. It is designed to develop lateral thinking abilities and help understand how to approach a problem, rather than just measure memory power. Developing these skills at a young age creates a strong foundation for the way children will learn in the future, when the stakes are higher. That’s one of the things that makes STEM so unique and wonderful. These basic concepts and skills are universal and gender-neutral. They are relevant for everyone – children and adults, girls and boys.

Why should we deprive girls from such an important life skill? A kindergarten teacher in Washington state, USA refuses to let the boys play with LEGO in the classroom, but encourages the girls to, worried that girls will be left behind in the long term. Playing with LEGO doesn’t imply that we want them to become engineers; we are only giving them the platform to become well rounded critical thinkers. Don’t stop giving the girls dolls and kitchen sets, but also encourage them to play with construction toys. All activities involve development of different skills, each of which is important for the overall development of the child.

Do share your thoughts here on how the gender bias in children’s toys is harming childhood development.

During my research for this blog, I came across a few articles …

www.ravishly.com/2015/09/18/gendered-toy-debate-why-lego-friends-bad-boys-and-girls

www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/05/legos/484115/

www.theblaze.com/news/2017/01/31/kindergarten-teacher-refuses-to-let-boys-play-with-legos-in-the-name-of-gender-equality/

Are Gendered toys harming childhood development
www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/28/toys-kids-girls-boys-childhood-development-gender-research

UK campaign against gender stereotypes in toys
lettoysbetoys.org.uk/why-it-matters/

discovermagazine.com/2013/dec/15-e-is-for-engineering


February 23, 2017
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For over 75 years LEGO has provided immense entertainment to children (and adults) all over the world. From simple stackable bricks, the company has grown into an educational toy provider, giving its fans the opportunity to learn while they play. The development of special parts such as slopes, eyes, wheels, propellers and windows have brought the creations to life.

For a moment, let’s go back to the simple four by two and two by two bricks. In one session we gave children these bricks to build dinosaurs, and in other to build forest animals; the results were amazing. Although resistant and unsure at first, the children eventually figured out how best to use the square and rectangle blocks to create animals that have rounded shapes. The giraffe and the brontosaurus looked the same, but does that really matter?! We often overlook the imagination and creativity of the child in our search for perfection. The children translated their understandings into three dimensional objects. After all, both the giraffe and the brontosaurus are four-legged herbivores with long necks that enable them to reach the top of trees for food. In the mind of the child one was a dinosaur and the other a giraffe, even though the LEGO versions looked the same. The translation of knowledge into action reinforces the concept of animal physiology.

Similarly, building a volcano with a vent for baking soda and vinegar “eruption,” helped the child translate the book learning of a volcano structure into a three-dimensional, physical one. This indirect learning makes it more enjoyable for the child and increases retention of concepts.

As children get older, so do the complexities of science concepts and the objects they can make. When we introduced bridges and structures to five year olds, we saw only beam bridges. It’s the simplest and most popular kind, but the kids didn’t know the technicalities of this type. Their bridges were functional – some where cars went over the bridge, and some where cars could go under as well.

The same activity with older children, however, was more defined. It wasn’t just a bridge over water anymore; it was a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge or a steel arch bridge like the Sydney harbour bridge. Building bridges doesn’t make children civil engineers, but it allows children to start learning concepts at a young age, and defining them as they grow older. Building them with their own hands helps reinforce concepts and designs.

We’ve been talking about STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) concepts all this while, but why is it really that important? We are surrounded by STEM every day, all the time – how we breathe, the food we eat, the mobiles we use, the cars we drive, the pets we take care of, trains, planes, animals, plants, rollercoasters, bridges, towers, storms, earthquakes, – all STEM. To put it very simply, we are learning about how the world works.

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation)

When we combine the all-time-favourite LEGO with STEM, we have the perfect recipe for learning!