I ran a Lego Simple Machines program for 3rd-5th graders in January, and K-2nd graders in February. There were some interesting differences. Both groups had 16 kids. The older group consisted of 14 boys and 2 girls, all avid Lego fans, while the younger group was made up of 9 girls and 7 boys, some of whom were not particularly familiar with – or interested in – Legos.
In the older group, the fact that they were specifically Lego simple machines seemed to be a draw. Some of our regulars who normally have a tough time staying on task were working hard the whole time, building together. They didn’t necessarily focus on the simple machines, but they were at least building something that related to their given task of creating an amusement park ride.
In the younger group, especially for one table of first grade girls who had little Lego experience, the actual Legos seemed to be a bit of a turnoff. We have loads of Lego-specific programs – family drop-ins, Lego clubs, Lego WeDo – and they usually have an enthusiastic response, so it was interesting to see the Legos acting as a barrier in this case. With a little coaxing, though, they managed to settle in and create some pretty interesting amusement park rides.
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