Students Learn the Basics of Energy and Engineering at Mount Kisco Elementary School
Heads bent and instruction books open, Mount Kisco Elementary School fifth graders huddled around work desks, excitedly piecing together small structures with LEGOs. By the end of the session, many of the groups had built solar panel models that actually spun. The workshop was part of a STEM enrichment program in partnership with Bricks 4 Kidz.
Before building, students learned about renewable and nonrenewable natural energy resources. By learning what energy is and the advantages and disadvantages of using different types of energy, students began to understand the importance of considering the effects these resources may have.
Once the background lesson was complete, students paired up and dove into LEGO sets. Following a manual, the groups worked together to slowly but surely build miniature solar panels that could be hooked up to a battery pack so that they spun.
“It’s an opportunity for students to learn, build and play,” said Marj Santos, Managing Director of Bricks 4 Kidz. “They learn organizational skills, teamwork, hand-eye coordination. I love this program.”
Santos and her helpers mingled with the students, helping when necessary but for the most part letting them figure out how to build the models themselves. Instead of directly intervening, they shared words of encouragement.
“Great job!” Santos told one group of students who completed their structure.
“Good organizational skills!” she said to another.
Students who finished early helped other groups, explaining when their peers grabbed the wrong pieces or placed something incorrectly.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Siena Palmer, who completed the project with her partner Elissa López Morales.
“I liked how it spun,” López Morales said. “If they were small, it spun really fast. If they were big, they spun really slowly.”
The hands-on program gave students the opportunity to work with their peers to problem solve while thinking about real world challenges. For the young builders, the activity provided a glimpse into future career choices.