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LEGO Ambassador visits Boulder Journey School

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LEGO Ambassador visits Boulder Journey School

Post  Uniblab on Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:58 pm

Until about a week ago I had been visiting a friend in Colorado for about 10 weeks. During that time we both volunteered for the Boulder International Film Festival. (It was great! I saw some very good films but I’ll save that for another topic if asked.)

During the closing night I was wearing my LEGO watch (as usual). It often gets the conversation on my favorite topic: LEGO. During one conversation I mentioned I was a LEGO ambassador and one of the women perked right up about that. She is a teacher at a rather upscale preschool in Boulder called the Boulder Journey School. (All the teachers have to have teaching degrees – at a PRESCHOOL! – many have 2 degrees or PhDs.) She invited me to come in and talk to some of the kids and show them some building techniques.

Anyone who has seen me near the PennLUG display at events knows how much I love engaging the public, especially kids. Naturally I jumped at the chance to work with kids directly.

However, these were going to be very young children ages 4 and 5. What kinds of things can you show them that they’ll understand? I decided to keep it simple. (Works well for adults too…) First I built a little wall with all the pieces lined up on top of each other – no overlapping – not very strong. Then I built a little windmill. (I wanted to have something that moved.) To demonstrate the principle of overlapping bricks I made the bottom layer alternating red and blue bricks, the second layer alternating yellow and black, then red and blue again, etc. so they could see all the seams and how they all overlapped.

To help them understand how that makes a big difference I had them make fists and put their knuckles together. It is very easy to pull their hands apart or slide them up and down or front and back away from each other. Then I had them interlace their fingers and try again. They couldn’t pull their hands apart or slide them up and down or front and back.

These were a bunch of bright little kids and I think they really got it. Several of them like to build space ships but they didn’t always stay together well when swooshing them around. I reminded them to build strong and they rebuilt them and they were much better. I even showed a couple of them how to make pivoting steering with only regular bricks.

A fun time was had by all. I just received a thank you letter from the teacher who invited me so I thought I’d share it here:


Mike Tighe (LEGO Ambassador)

March 11, 2011

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your visit to Boulder Journey School on February 24th. The children were engaged and enthusiastic as they watched you build a structure with a windmill that moved. They were interested in your ideas about building strong structures and when you showed them how to build pivots and especially when they learned how to build wild animals like zebras and cheetahs. They were inspired to integrate their creations into their wooden block structures and their imaginary play throughout the day. They continue using LEGOS to represent their ideas. For example they built swans and a park structure to represent the ideas of a book they read. Your visit reinforced our beliefs that children are competent and have a right to competent teachers in all disciplines, including LEGO building.

I asked them what they thought about your visit and they indicated that you were “good” and that they “really liked you.” Earlier this week, one of the children found an interesting LEGO piece and indicated to me that he was going to save it to share with the LEGO man when he comes back! I applaud your capacity to engage these young children (4 and 5 years old) in your passion. I hope that we will keep in touch and that you will visit our school again.

Thank you,
Leha Warner
Teacher, Boulder Journey School

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