5 Ways LEGO can help STEM Learning

LEGO_can_help_stem_learning

LEGO can help STEM learning – it has been around for a long time now, and yet it is still as popular today as it has ever been, maybe even more so in fact.  It has also spawned a large number of similar products from competitors which is always a sign that they must be getting something right!

While there is no doubt that LEGO is a toy, it is fantastic for helping eager young minds develop STEM skills that are heavily in demand in the world of today (and no doubt the tomorrow we are trying to prepare them for too).  So just how useful can it be, and how can you make sure children are getting the benefit?

5 Ways LEGO can help STEM Learning

1. Building Sets

r2_d2So The LEGO Movie mildly mocked building only using the instructions, but it actually provides many learning opportunities for children.  Following the instructions is an important part of science practical work and engineering so it is always good for them to practice the skills.  With sets designed for everyone from toddlers to adults, everyone should be able to find something to challenge them.  Got a load of bricks but no instructions?  No worries, you can download all the instructions from here and build whatever you fancy – don’t worry about swapping bricks either, sometimes that is half the fun!

2. Seed Parts

spray_bottleIf you want to move away from the instructions and let the imagination take control for a change then what better way than to use a seed part.  This is where a particular part (large or small) has to be included in the build in an interesting way.  This pushes the challenge a little bit further than just ‘build anything you want’, an unusual example shown here is using a brick separator as the part in question!

brick_separator

3. LEGO Technic

Technic is the slightly more advanced version of LEGO that will push the skills of even adult builders.  Frequently based around complex vehicles and machinery, LEGO Technic will have you building gear boxes, pneumatic systems and other engineering wonders.  It is an excellent way for children to learn how complex machinery works (like engines for example) while also have all the other benefits of LEGO.  Beware though, that a simple misaligned gear can result in hours of rebuilding when the wheels just won’t turn!

4. LEGO Digital Designer (LDD)

One of the biggest issues that people ask me about (I assume they ask me because I have lots of LEGO and they are hoping I will give them some) is along the lines of ‘we don’t have enough bricks for all the children’.  This isn’t a big deal – how does infinite bricks sound?  That is what LDD offers, well near enough anyway, as it is a computer program that allows children (and adults) to build with every brick ever produced.  It is free to download and use – click here to get it.

lego_digital_designer

5. LEGO Mindstorms

If money isn’t an object when it comes to LEGO and learning then LEGO Mindstorms might just be for you.  The most recent version of Mindstorms will let a dedicated child build and program their own robot.  I needn’t say any more about this one as it doesn’t get a lot cooler than that – simply click here to find out more!

 

So that just about wraps it up – LEGO can help STEM learning in a lot of different ways – and not only that, it’s actually quite fun too (even if you’re an adult)!

 

About the author: Matt Stanford

Matt Stanford
Matt has been working in education for 10 years, teaching science to all ages from preschool to degree. Before he became a teacher he studied chemistry at Masters level and completed his PhD at The University of Warwick. It was during his time at university that he got involved in outreach work in local primary schools and found his passion for inspiring learning.

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