Creativity, education focus of LEGO expo

By Ethan Hamilton/reporter

Teams of children in kindergarten through fourth grade packed the convention floor at the north entrance of the South Campus energy building April 6 to show off their creative prowess in an array of colorful LEGOs. They hoped to catch the attention of volunteer judges for TCC’s and the DFW Technology and Educational Council’s first LEGO Jr. Expo.

The teams signed up for the expo online. The children were then sent a kit filled with LEGOs of all different sizes and colors, motors and instructions for their design.

This expo’s theme was living on the moon, so students would have to use their creativity to come up with a design that would work using LEGOs and the STEM concepts.

“It is a great age to introduce these kids [to] STEM,” said John Shellene, a member of the DFW Technology and Educational council. “We hold these expos to celebrate all their hard work and let them come together [to] see what other kids have done and other teams have done and let us celebrate all of that hard work.”

These kids began their projects back in the fall where they worked either at their school or in after-school programs to build models using LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 and create a Show Me poster that has the summary of all of their research and what they have learned.  Event organizers decided to choose the concept “mission moon,” because it was a new and innovative way for students to learn more about STEM.

“They study all fall semester and do research… to find out more about the moon and the aspects of the moon,” said Walker.

This event also helps showcase TCC as a safe space for young minds who are interested in STEM.

“Our goal here at TCC is just to keep that passion going so that they come [to] TCC and know that we are STEM friendly and we can be an option,” Walker said.

TCC has other STEM programs offered for children at that age if they come to TCC in the summertime.

“This LEGO event is more relaxed compared to others because with the older kids, it’s a lot more competitive,” Walker said.

Even though this was more of a celebration for their accomplishments rather than a competition like other LEGO events are, teams were still given one of 10 awards based on their designs such as the Picasso Award that is given to the team with the most creative design.

“I came [to this event] because I was curious to see what this event was about and see how the kids would react to STEM,” volunteer and South student Miguel Armendari said.

Kids were also allowed to dress up in a team costume like astronauts or even cowboys, and a group called the “Lunar Cowboys” did just that.

One of the boys, Chance, really wanted to make something cool and fun for his team’s project. He decided that his team make a LEGO farm sustainable for astronauts to have food. This was complete with a rover that is able to collect ice to turn it into water from nearby craters, which would provide water for the astronauts to drink.