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Lego And Steam

Have you ever played with Lego?

Here is a great example of why Lego and STEAM go together.

The STEAM-Powered Elementary School: Montour Opens World’s First Lego-Themed Brick Makerspace

Montour Elementary School’s latest makerspace, the first of its kind powered by Lego Education, wasn’t the school’s first advanced, hands-on learning lab, and it won’t be its last.

Montour Elementary students collaborate on designing and building cars, which they will then race down a custom track built by Montour High School students. That’s just one set of hands-on activities in Montour Elementary’s new Brick Makerspace, which formally opened Feb. 22.

Pennsylvania’s Montour Elementary School stands out even among schools that have embraced STEAM education, the maker movement, hands-on learning and augmented and virtual reality. So when the K–4 school opened the world’s first “Brick Makerspace” — a Lego Education-powered STEAM lab developed and implemented in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, Lego Education, parents, students and a local Barnes and Noble — it wasn’t just a one-off affair; rather, it was yet another advance in the school’s efforts to integrate principles of STEAM education throughout the curriculum.

“I believe makerspaces and STEAM education get students interested in learning at a very young age,” Jason Burik, co-principal at Montour Elementary, told THE Journal. “STEAM education challenges students to learn and apply content and skills with fun, real-life projects. Skills learned can later then be applied to almost any job. We wanted to create a unique learning space that kids would love coming to, something that no one else had, a room that would inspire students to become architects, engineers, designers, makers, and use problem-solving and critical thinking skills. We wanted a room that made students curious to learn and discover amazing things along the way.”

Montour Elementary Co-Principal Jason Burik is also an accomplished Lego artist. He’s pictured here at the Brick Makerspace’s central feature: the Creation Station.

The space, which formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Feb. 22, is themed on Lego bricks, with activities ranging from brick building to 3D printing to car racing to stop-motion animation to an interactive mixed reality system that lets students build structures and test their physical properties. Lego Education’s WeDo 2.0, Lego MINDSTORMS Education EV3 and Lego Education Simple and Powered Machines are some of the tools employed in the space, along with the new Lego Education Maker activities.

“The centerpiece of the room is the Creation Station, my personal favorite,” said Burik, who is, not coincidentally, an accomplished Lego artist and head of Brick Model Design. A lifelong Lego enthusiast, he has in his adult life created Lego sculptures for Google, Cisco, the NFL, MLB, NHL and many other organizations. “I love to see the students stand around the perimeter of this, collaborate on projects. I’ve seen some really neat lessons take place here, in science and math. One, for example, is similar to a paper pass in the classroom. Kids start with a base plate, and they add one block. They have to pass to the person to the right, keep adding to that block. And when it comes back to them, it’s a really neat creation. And they have to give it a title, count how many blocks are in it, what colors were used in it, what its purpose is. There’s all kinds of things you can do with that. It’s a simple activity.”

Yours in STEAM,

Anne Waldek-Thill

Founder and organiser


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