16th January, 2014
Entry by Justine H. for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester's Teacher Advisory Board.
For consideration for the teacher advisory panel;
I have found LEGO® to be useful tools for helping students grasp difficult concepts in both my Chemistry and Environmental Science classes. I didn’t always use LEGO in my classroom but I wanted to find ways to incorporate tactile experiences for my students which include manipulatives. While watching my then three year old spend hours playing and creating, I had the idea that I could use LEGO for many concepts. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with this idea and as I dug around for inspiration, I found many websites and lesson plans which utilize the simplicity of LEGO to help explain complex concepts.
This was the first site I used: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/GK12/modules/2008/Lego_My_Lego.pdf I still use aspects of this lesson plan when I am introducing students to the concept of Stoichiometry in chemistry. It has made a huge impact on my students’ understanding in this topic.
One of my favorite utilizations of LEGO is using the lesson plan mentioned here: http://howtosmile.org/record/5478 This one is especially useful as there are two components; a “wet” lab which uses real chemicals and a simulation using LEGO to explore the reactions on a molecular level. I find the simulation important because students often have difficulty understanding reactions that they cannot see microscopically. This is a link to what the “wet” lab entails:http://video.mit.edu/watch/lego-atoms-and-molecules-chemical-reactions-part-1-wet-lab-8383/
This is a link that I often assign to students who struggle with concepts relating to atoms and bonding. The analogy between atoms and LEGO regularly helps clarify some of these misunderstandings for students. http://chemistryunderstood.com/understand/Leogs/index.html
Lastly, I use this exercise in my environmental science class when discussing air pollution. http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/envh10.health.lp58b/understanding-air-air-pollution-and-modeling-pollutants-with-legosupsup-bricks/
It is amazing the scope of application that is possible with LEGO in the classroom. Kids in elementary school regularly use manipulatives in Math to help them make connections so why not extend this discovery into the upper levels. I have found much success and personal pleasure using LEGO both at home with my two children aged 3 and 6 and with my High School Students. I would be thrilled to be chosen to sit on your teacher advisory panel and believe that I would be an asset.