Junior FIRST Lego League after school program teaches kids about teamwork.
Does your 6 to 9-year-old child* love Legos? Then he (or she!) will love the hands-on after school enrichment program called Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr.FLL®).
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill after school program. Kids work together to build something they can really be proud of out of Lego® bricks. Instead of just building a toy, which they could do at home on their own, they are learning about teamwork, coming up with ideas for improving their world and making their idea come to life.
Every year there is a different challenge. For instance, in 2010 the Jr.FLL® real-world challenge was Biomedical Engineering: Engineering Meets Medicine. The goal was to “discover how Biomedical Engineering helps you and your team get and stay healthy,” and my 7-year-old son’s team built an electric scooter. They made a flier that shared how their scooter “helps people to get around, become more independent, shop and be kept safe from falls.” The challenge for 2011 for Jr.FLL® is called Snack Attack: Keeping Food Safe. The goal for all teams is to “master the science of safely preparing food.” What I love about the program is that the time commitment is manageable. Kids meet after school once or twice a month from September through February for about an hour.
This program was founded by an inventor to get kids interested in technology, science and engineering (FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). According to www.FirstLegoLeague.org, “Participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.” Teams and coaches help each other instead of compete against each other. It’s also “designed to capture young children’s inherent curiosity and direct it toward discovering the possibilities of improving the world around them.”
Sound like fun, but there’s no Jr.FLL® program anywhere in your town? Well, if you want to start a Jr.FLL® program at your child’s school or with your homeschool group for the start of the 2012 school year, don’t worry if you don’t have any background in teaching or technology. Jr.FLL® makes it easy. Here are the steps:
- Head to www.JrFirstLegoLeague.org to read up on the program.
- Form your team during the summer and pay $25 to register a set of 10 kids.
- Order your team’s kit, which will cost anywhere from $149.95 to $215.95 (optional materials cost extra). You can collect money from the team members and/or hold a fundraiser. My husband and I paid $25 for the entire season plus $15 for a special T-shirt. I would also suggest ordering the Coach’s Guide and the meeting activities guide called Lego® Serious Play™ Activities.
- Secure a location (school, church, parent’s house), determine a meeting schedule and assign snack duties!
- Start working on the Challenge in September.
- Apply for your team to be in a final “competition” event.
- Make your main team poster.
- Attend the final event in February with your team and celebrate your awards.
If your child likes Legos®, being with friends, building things, coming up with new ideas and having fun, Junior FIRST® Lego® League is the after school program for your family!
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*There’s also a program that is more advanced for 9 to 14-year-olds called simply FIRST® Lego® League.
Kerrie McLoughlin loves comments here and at TheKerrieShow.com, where she blogs about the goofy things her large family comes up with!