Learning with LEGO

  • Press photos/Jake Browning - Second-grader Ryder Murphy is a big Star Wars fan, as evidenced by the figures of Yoda and Baby Yoda at right.
    Press photos/Jake Browning - Second-grader Ryder Murphy is a big Star Wars fan, as evidenced by the figures of Yoda and Baby Yoda at right.

South Macon Elementary School students exercised their creativity recently when the school invited them to participate in LEGO Week.

Inspired by the company’s National LEGO Day that was held in January, South Macon’s LEGO Week was a tradition that began last year in the media center. Librarian Cristy Passmore hoped the kids could use the media center’s maker space to work on their creations, but with the pandemic still a factor, the maker space is closed to prevent the spread of germs. Even so, dozens of students took up the challenge to work on inventive LEGO contraptions at home and bring them to the media center to display. 

Passmore said that putting a creation in the display is a big point of pride for the kids, not to mention a way to help them relax and enjoy their schoolwork toward the end of one of the most arduous school years in recent memory.

“Any bit of relief that we can give them at a time like this is a good thing,” Passmore said. “We can’t discount fun.”

The LEGO creations that line the library shelves come in all shapes and sizes. Many of them are inspired by the kids’ favorite books and movies. Second-grader Ryder Murphy, for example, is a big Star Wars fan, so he and his family worked hard on a recreation of the cantina in Mos Eisly and statues of Yoda and Baby Yoda. Building with LEGO is a major part of Ryder’s life, one that his teachers say helps him engage more in school.

“When he builds something, he expects it to stay the way it is,” said Christy McDowell, known to her students as Ms. Kiki. “It’s very important to him.”

Other students decided to go in a direction all their own. Fourth-grader Ethan Welch started with the set for a monster figure named Molten Man, but then he added pieces from other sets like claws and extra arms that he felt made it look cooler. Getting to mix and match parts to design something no one else has thought of is what Welch likes best about playing with LEGO. 

“I’m not limited and I don’t have to build anything else,” Welch said. “I can do what I want.”

Stirring up those creative juices is the ultimate point of LEGO Week. Art teacher Jessica Carpenter says that working with LEGO is a great entry point for young children to start working with before trying out other media. Even when they get older, the customization and completionist elements of the little plastic bricks will still remind them of the joys of art. 

“LEGOs are absolutely a form of art,” Carpenter said. “LEGOs are for all ages, and I think that when students start off creating LEGO sculptures, even at a young age, it opens up creativity and imagination. It also gives a feeling of pride when something like this is completed.”