Source: Sherman Publications

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Learning with Lego

by CJ Carnacchio

March 19, 2014

Making some last-minute modifications to his team’s Lego model is Daniel Axford second-grader Dominic Saferian. Watching is Asst. Coach Dan Clark. The rest of the team includes (from left) Andre Acheson, Camden Lepping, Vincent Clark and Nick Vallone.
A love of Lego building bricks and learning brought 99 Oxford students together Sunday afternoon for the Second Annual Daniel Axford/Oxford Elementary Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL) Expo.

Fifteen teams from Daniel Axford, Oxford and Leonard elementary schools gathered to show off their models based on the Jr. FLL's 2013 Disaster Blaster Challenge.

The teams used Lego bricks to build models that depicted a scene either before, during or after a natural disaster such as a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, volcanic eruption or wildfire, according to DA/OES Jr. FLL coordinator Danielle Kavc.

Each model had to be 15 inches long and 15 inches wide, feature at least one motorized piece and utilize a simple machine made from Lego bricks. Each model typically contains between 400 and 1,000 Lego parts.

Kavc explained Jr. FLL encourages the kids to use their creativity combined with engineering principles "to build something from scratch" as opposed to just following a set of directions.

"So many of the Legos now are kits, so the kids learn how to follow directions, but they don't use the creativity that we used to when we just had a big pile of Legos," she said.

Participating in Jr. FLL teaches kids how to be "independent-thinkers" and "how to work as a team," according to Kavc.

In addition to displaying their models, each team engaged in a 15-minute challenge during which they had to work together to construct an Easter Bunny, complete with basket and eggs, made entirely from Lego bricks.

The teams also spent some time with the robotics teams from Leonard Elementary, Oxford Middle School and Oxford High School.

"They showed them what they can aspire to and continue to do if they stay involved in Lego League," Kavc said.

At the end of the event, a variety of awards were presented.

"This is an expo, not a competition, so every team gets an award," Kavc said.