LEGO challenge encourages kids to be creative

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Wed., Jul. 24, 2013
James puts LEGO pieces together to create a helicopter at the New England Air Museum. Photos by Calla Vassilopoulos.
James puts LEGO pieces together to create a helicopter at the New England Air Museum. Photos by Calla Vassilopoulos.

As children walked through the New England Air Museum doors and peeked to the room on the left, they saw piles and piles of LEGO bricks. “Imagine Our Future Beyond Earth” was the theme of the NASA-inspired LEGO challenge at the museum from July 19 to 21, when children were asked to use their imagination and think into the future to create aircraft, space stations and anything else used for interplanetary travel.

“It's really about giving them a chance to be creative and build something life-like,” said educator Michael Wilkose.

Aside from the piles of LEGO bricks, four tables around the perimeter of the room displayed the creations for each age group: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 or 13-15. Each LEGO structure was accompanied by a piece of paper with the artist's name and design title. At the end of the weekend, a design from each age group was awarded a prize. Teenagers 16 years old and over were encouraged to upload an image of their creation to under the “Building Challenge” category by 2:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31. 

The event was part of the museum's education program, which was created years ago as part of a grant. Due to its success, the program currently has educators available most days during the summer and every weekend during the school year. The educators are generally college students or teachers who work at the museum part-time. The program offers unique information to those visiting the museum, as well as activities for children.

“The idea behind it was to bring out the scientific principals related to flight and aviation and fuse it with the history we have with all the artifacts, but also pull out the STEM principals – science, technology, engineering and mathematics - that are being pushed so heavily in education now,” said Wilkose.

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