Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Local kids will have a chance to learn a bit about science and engineering by using Legos.
Starting soon, Lockport elementary students ages 6 through 9 can be a part of the FIRST junior Lego program. The junior Lego league has students use Legos to design and build a model centered around a given theme, such as natural disasters and how science, technology, math and engineering can be an influence.
An informational meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Challenger Learning Center Of Orleans, Niagara and Erie, located in Harrison Place, Building 1, Washburn Street.
Those in the Lockport education community are certainly familiar with FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” It’s an organization that introduces students to professional engineers and mentors and promotes science and technology education through competition. Students must design and build models or robots that perform tasks or solve problems.
At the high school, students participate on the robotics team, the Warlocks. At North Park Junior High, kids participate in FIRST Tech Challenge.
The FIRST Lego team at Emmet Belknap Intermediate, the Robot Rockers, participates in a competition that gets students into robotics by building a Lego robot and solving a real-life problem.
The junior Lego league is similar to the intermediate school program, but for elementary school kids, said Bill Kreutinger, an adviser with the junior program.
“It’s open to anybody,” Kreutinger said. “I think it’ll be great, it’ll be awesome for the area to have these kids get into these fields.”
There’s a range of two to six youths on a junior Lego team. Kreutinger said there’s already enough interest for a team, but the idea is to create multiple teams.
“And we need some adult volunteers,” Kreutinger said.
The team(s) will develops a poster to illustrate their journey and practice their presentation skills. Aside from learning how to work as a team, members also explore different scientific and engineering challenges facing society.
The program gives children an early start in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Increasing student interest in those fields has been a goal of state and federal officials and educators.
The STEM impact is what Kathy Michaels, the ONE Challenger Center executive director, likes about the junior Lego program.
“Getting younger kids interested is important; when they reach high school it’s almost too late,” she said.
Kreutinger said Michaels and the Challenger Center have been supportive.
“Finding a place was the challenge,” he said. “Thanks to them we have that.”Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.