Legos spur variety of skills for area students
In an effort to integrate more technology into the classroom, Blooming Prairie Elementary School has been offering students a unique program involving Lego engineering.
Second grade teacher Kim Lea is coordinator of the program, which involves all grades at the elementary level. Each grade has had at least one week of Legos for one hour a day, Lea said.
Kristi Fiebiger, a science resident, has been teaching the program for three years.
She says her interest in the program has developed out of a love for science and to top it off, two of her children are engineers.
“Lego engineering lets kids exercise creativity while learning the fundamentals of engineering,” Fiebiger said. She added that math and physics concepts are built into every project.
Lea said students come away with so many skills from Lego engineering, including reading, analyzing and problem solving. “Any time you can do hands-on learning and technology for these kids, it’s another hook and way to keep them involved,” she says.
The integration of technology into the classroom is important for all students, Lea noted. “Technology is not going away any time soon in their lives,” she said.
Lea explained that the focus on Lego engineering stems out of a “fantastic program” offered by Blooming Prairie’s Arkema Company. Lea and a colleague, the late Rachel Harberts, were involved in a program at Arkema and decided to create a curriculum for the school. Both Lea and Harberts worked together on implementing the program in the local school.
“We wanted to give the kids a kick start to what it’s all about,” Lea said. “This feeds into the robotics program at the high school.”
Community support has been crucial to the success of the program, according to Lea. Arkema and the Blooming Prairie Education Foundation provide Lego kits for all the students. The local PTO organization pays for Fiebiger to teach the program. KIK Graphics also helped by providing banners for the competition at the end of the program.
“A lot of people came together to make this a reality for the kids,” Lea said. “Other schools don’t have the support that we do through the PTO, Arkema and BP Ed Foundation. This is pretty unique and pretty special,” she added.
Lea admitted it was difficult to get through this year’s program as teachers and students alike have been forced to deal without the presence of Harberts. She was tragically killed in a car crash during the first week of school last September.
“It was a big gap to think about it without her,” Lea said. She noted that they received help from Rachel’s son, Jaxon, and his father, Brandon. Lea said Brandon has “such an engineering mind.”
Lea said Harberts felt passionate about Lego engineering. “It was a pretty good legacy for her,” Lea said. “This year was a special tribute to Rachel and Emerson (Rachel’s daughter who was also killed).”
For Fiebiger, it’s special to be involved in such a unique program. “I get lots of hugs from the kids,” she said.