A group of USD 250 students is using an iconic American toy set to learn about science.

A group of USD 250 students is using an iconic American toy set to learn about science.

Students in Mandy Arck’s fourth grade class are using LEGO Simple Machines sets, which are LEGO Education/PITSCO products designed, according to company officials, to provide an innovative, hands-on learning experience for students. The sets use gears, wheels and axles, levers and pulleys. The program is designed to promote teamwork and the discovery of physical science concepts.

“They’re designed to be used for about a week’s worth of lessons,” Marketing Specialist Jenni Breeze said Wednesday as she observed Arck’s class. “It ties into math really well, and they can also be used for social studies lessons.”

Students can build catapults, merry-go-rounds and cars, among others. On Wednesday Arck’s students were building popcorn carts with signs that spin as the wheels turn. Arck is one of six teachers around the United States to be selected to test the sets.

“They follow story problems step-by-step,” Breeze said. “We’ve had awesome feedback from the teachers, and the kids really seem to like the sets.”
The students certainly seemed to be enjoying the lessons.

“I can build something the size of this room if I have instructions,” a student blurted out enthusiastically.

Designed for students aged 7 and above, the sets align with National Science Teacher’s Association and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards, and accommodate a wide variety of learning styles. Arck said the program has gone well so far.

“We will do a whole unit with these,” she said. “We’ve already worked on gears. The skills they learn are on the state assessments, so these sets work very well with our core curriculum. Any time we can use hands-on projects where all the students are participating at once, it really helps them learn and retain that knowledge.”

Arck said her students had enjoyed the lessons and were looking forward to more.

“Any time they feel like they’re playing and you can tie the lessons back into the fun they’re having, it works really well,” Arck said. “The key is to keep them engaged. It helps them internalize what they’re learning.”