I am partnering with FIRST® to showcase their FIRST® LEGO® League programs, which are hands-on STEM programs for kids in Pre-K-8th grade. For children in grades PreK-1, their offering is called FIRST®LEGO®League Jr. Discovery Edition. Developed in conjunction with early childhood education experts, this is a playful introductory STEM program in which children collaborate in teams of four to explore a real-world theme with an exclusive LEGO®Education Discovery Model. Using this model as a starting point, they design and build an idea as a team using LEGO DUPLO elements. I love that they are asked to use DUPLO elements because most of the students are familiar with these and have the skills required to build creatively and intentionally on their own.
I wanted to give you a little background on FIRST! FIRST (founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen) is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future. They are the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education. But the impact of FIRST is bigger than just building science, technology, engineering and math skills! FIRST recognizes that it is critical to prepare students for the future workforce, and early exposure to STEM – especially in early childhood and elementary school – provides students with the foundation necessary to fulfill an increased number of STEM-related careers. In all their programs, FIRST encourages students to work as a team and build important “life” skills such as leadership, communication, and problem-solving.
FIRST partnered with LEGO Education to create FIRST LEGO Leaguein 1998. The program is the most accessible, guided, global robotics competition of its kind, and it is built around theme-based Challenges to engage children in research, problem-solving, coding, and engineering. Each year, the program engages nearly 300,000 children in 100+ countries in playful and meaningful learning while helping them discover the fun in science and technology.
New this year, FIRST and LEGO Education have introduced FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition. This offering ignites children’s natural curiosity, supports the development of social and emotional skills, and builds their habits of learning. Following their participation, students emerge more confident, better equipped to face future challenges, and show an increased interest in STEM.
There are two components to this program. One is the BOOMTOWN BUILD Discovery Set and the other is a STEAM Park Set.
Each year, FIRST LEGO League launches a new design challenge for the students, and this year’s challenge for their youngest participants iscalled BOOMTOWN BUILD. The FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition “Class Pack” is a solution that you can use with your class in which they work together to design and build their idea of what their growing town will need. They will use the LEGO DUPLO bridge model as a starting point and from there they will work as a team to build their very own BOOMTOWN. Through the process and 10 sessions they will learn about the theme, learn how to make their ideas move and work, solve challenges presented to them through the experience and have an opportunity to share their work at the end.
The Class Pack solution comes with:
· Seven BOOMTOWN BUILD Discovery Sets
· 30 Discover More parent engagement sets: (for each student to take home and extend their learning with their family members)
· Two Team Meeting Guides for the teachers
· 30 Engineering Notebooks (one for each student to document their thinking and learning)
The Team Meeting Guides and Engineering Notebooks are formatted so you can complete 10 different lessons with your class in which they are practicing working together, accomplishing STEM challenges, and designing and building their team’s creative ideas.
Students are challenged to solve a problem and the Discovery set provides a guided solution. Then, the STEAM Park set is used along with the Discovery set to explore and solve architecture-related challenges. It is recommended to purchase one STEAM Parkset for each group of four – this is a first-year investment only, as the STEAM Park set is reusable from year to year. The Class Pack needs to be purchased each year because the Challenge changes annually. The Engineering Notebooks and Team Meeting Guides within the Class Pack are updated annually as well.
What I love about this program is there are 10 detailed lesson plans included that correspond with the students’ Engineering Notebooks. There are TONS of resources given to the teachers to support their lessons, so we can feel comfortable with walking the students through the 10 STEM lessons. There are pictures with models and mats to provide the students with a starting point to build their DUPLO bridge and town, all while having the freedom to create their own design. After the 9 lessons there is a Celebration Event where the parents and guardians are invited to see what the students have built and learned through their STEM challenge.
I highly recommend this program for your Pre-K-1st grade students! The whole goal of this program is to encourage the children to think and behave like engineers: developing their ability to observe, question, gather information, make changes, and ask more questions. There is so much flexibility in this program that the students can take their time in the building process, while you guide and discuss what they are building and thinking as they make their designs.
free Letter tracing activity A-Z upper and lower case
Practice letter formation with these independent, engaging, and zero-prep. printables! Use them for whole group, homework, small group, or for students that need extra practice with writing their letters.