BOSTON (CBS) – Legos are a standard toy for most preschool children and for 30 years, Lego Education has been using the colorful bricks to teach.
Last year, Lego Education moved its headquarters to Boston. Their work in Boston Public Schools shows it’s an important part of the classroom experience.
Second graders at the Eliot School in Boston use the Lego kits in robotics class.
“We have to make a railroad crossing gate,” one student said. “We have to make it go up and go down.”
And they’ve got the basics of engineering – down.
“So the load over here, the pivot right here, and then the effort is over here,” another student said. “You have to have those three things.”
Teacher Huijing Wu worked as an engineer but left industry to work in education. She teaches robotics to kindergartners through eighth graders and calls these Lego kits a valuable tool.
“It gets kids to really think about how we live in this world that has all this technology and they’re learning around it all the time, but this is really using it,” Wu said.
When Lego Education moved to Boston last year, in part it was to partner with great institutions like MIT and Tufts. Now they have programs in over 200 Boston-area schools taking a familiar toy and making it part of the important STEM curriculum.
“That’s part of the magic of Lego Education where we’re bringing the core brick from the toy group or from what kids experience at home into the education environment,” said Ken Yanhs, Marketing Director for Lego Education.
Where the familiar interlocking blocks give kids the freedom to try and try again.
“Failing is OK,” Yanhs says. “And the fact that they actually get to collaborate and talk and that sharing of ideas is super important.”
“And we talk about when your project fails it doesn’t meant that you’re a failure, it just means this is an opportunity for you to figure out what went wrong and try again,” Wu said.
Ken also pointed out Legos can also be a tremendous equalizer in a classroom where English is a second language and for special education students.
From LEGO Education: “LEGO Education has a variety of products and at different price ranges. Our goal is to first work with the school to determine what learning outcomes they hope to achieve for their students and then we help them determine the best solution, which can include in-person training.”