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Brick Makerspace powered by LEGO® Education solutions

The STEAM-Powered Elementary School: Montour Opens World's First Lego-Themed Brick Makerspace

The Brick Makerspace at Montour Elementary School (K-4), a Title l school, is a one of a kind learner-centered space giving students opportunities to design, make, and think creatively.


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March 2019
Supporting Montour Elementary School’s new Brick Makerspace with our LEGO Education solutions is a natural collaboration as we share the same priorities of student-centered learning and the dedication to sparking and engaging the innate curiosity of every student with hands-on playful learning tools.

About the innovation

Brick Makerspace powered by LEGO® Education solutions

LEGO and making has always been a passion of many people, and now with the assistance of LEGO Education, we are able to combine the two and provide students a unique and engaging learning experience.  Making is a way to create more opportunities for young people to make, and by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts.

The Brick Makerspace powered by LEGO® Education solutions, which formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Feb. 22,  2018, is themed on Lego bricks, with activities ranging from brick building to 3D printing to car racing to stop-motion animation to an interactive mixed reality system that lets students build structures and test their physical properties. Lego Education's WeDo 2.0, Lego MINDSTORMS Education EV3 and Lego Education Simple and Powered Machines are some of the tools employed in the space, along with the new Lego Education Maker activities. Students can also design and make amazing creations at each of the following stations: Animation Studio, Library, Test Track, Architecture, Engineering and Collaborative Building Center.Making can also be as simple as using six 4×2 LEGO® bricks. Søren Eilers, professor at the University of Copenhagn, wrote a computer program that shaped all the possible brick combinations and ended up with 915,103,765 combinations – WOW!

“At Montour, we like to use the learning terms “hands-on, minds-on” for tactile educational activities that spark motivation and excitement. The new Brick Makerspace powered by LEGO Education solutions is certainly an inspiring environment where our kids can imagine, design, create, and share ideas with one another. The interplay of imagination and education is really what makes this space so special,” said Dr. Christopher Stone, Superintendent of Montour School District.

At least as far as the school and district budgets were concerned, the Brick Makerspace (aside from the facility itself, which was part of the original construction) was just about free. Bricks were donated by parents. A literature library and props were donated by a local Barnes and Noble. Students built parts of the space. And grants provided the tools and technologies involved in the NoRILLA and Animation Studio from Carnegie Mellon.  

Some of Montour's own educators developed the lessons that are linked to state standards. "When I tell my students we're going to the LEGO room, their eyes light up; they're jumping out of their seats. When we come up here, their eyes are as wide as anything; they're just super excited to be here," said Karen Bell, a kindergarten teacher at Montour who's been teaching various grades for 18 years.

"From a creative standpoint, the kids really enjoy having the opportunity to take what they're learning and put it into something that they're touching and feeling and to be creative," said Linda Ewonce, fourth-grade teacher now in her 12th year as an educator. "In the classroom there's a certain amount of instruction you have to provide, but there's also experiences you can provide for them in these rooms that we didn't have before. We always used math manipulatives and things that they could touch and feel, but in here we can bring them in and give them a challenge and let them run with it rather than telling them how to use the manipulatives. And they will all find a different way to do it."

Source: THE Journal 

Implementation steps

Involve All Stakeholders

Making is intergenerational. It has been around forever and everyone is a maker, so why not tap into all stakeholders in the community. Whether it is a custodian who enjoys tinkering and fixing, a grandparent that sews, or parents who like to be involved – everyone can be included.

Choose Tools Based on Pedagogical Goals

Making is not separate from the curriculum; it strengthens the curriculum. One can help move the needle from teacher-directed environments to student-centered learning. Let students lead the process of learning through curiosity and discovery.

Make Learning Culturally and Age Relevant

Just because it is good for you, does not mean it is good for everyone (or kids). Tap into the student culture and learn what they like to do. As educators, we often complicate things by thinking about what children want instead of asking them and listening. 

Empower All Learners–Including Adults

Learning is most meaningful when people are active participants in the learning process; however, learning cannot be forced upon someone. Learning has to be fun and exciting. People will always learn best when they are invested and empowered. 

Don't Evaluate, Appreciate

How do you value making? If you want a maker culture do not value product, value the process. Are students collaborating? Did they answer the “Big Question?” How can you make it better? When implementing a maker culture, remember, questions are more powerful than the answers.

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