LEGO projects make for serious learning as we
head to Huntington for a stop at LEGO City. Part
of the Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute
on the campus of Marshall University, it seems
like simply a room full of the little toys. But what’s
happening here is getting kids hooked on math and
science by teaching the fundamentals of robotics.
Director Linda Hamilton says lessons with LEGO
materials can be the building blocks for the future.
At Marshall’s LEGO City, kids can learn to build several
robotics projects and see how they move.
“Science, technology, engineering and math
has to be the focus now to get them ready for the
next generation of jobs,” Hamilton said.”What they
learn here is that math is not about solving problem
number 10 on page 177. It’s actually learning how to make something go, and making
it go faster and slower, how things work, what will happen if we put more weight on or
make other changes. These are things you can’t learn from books. They realize that
math and science can be fun, and someday they can do it and get paid for it.”
Hamilton takes a version of LEGO City to summer camps and library programs
during the summer. But she’s also available for families to stop by for a one-day
session. She says groups of three children are ideal because they can work on a
robotics project as a team, and kids as young as six can take part.
Linda Hamilton works with one of the robotics that maneuver around LEGO City at Marshall University.
“We can build and program a robot, cars, monorails and snowplows,” Hamilton
said. “It’s not about coming here and building a toy. They’ll learn about gears, axels,
levers and pulleys, which are all part of making things move.”
The fun doesn’t end when kids leave. They can log on to the Internet and control
the transportation systems in LEGO City. The planet
Mars is also part of the colorful, miniature community.
Thousands of people from all over the world have
logged on to steer LEGO versions of NASA’s Mars
rovers around a tabletop recreation of the Red Planet.
For more information visit marshall.edu/LEGO.