Photo by Emily Buss.
Winona Senior High School 9th grade American History teacher Linda Pfeilsticker encourages her students to think creatively while working with Legos. As part of a recent grant from LEGO Education North America and Education Blueprints Association, students at WSHS are given the opportunity to strengthen their science, technology, economic and mathematic (STEM) abilities. The application process of working with the Legos, Pfeilsticker said, allows students to grasp recently learned classroom material and turn it into long-term knowledge.
Three Winona Area Public Schools have been given the opportunity to participate in a revolutionary new way of learning; they play with Legos.
Jefferson Elementary, Winona Middle School and Winona Senior High School are recent recipients of LEGO Education North America and Education Blueprints Association’s first-ever LEGO Smart Schools Grant.
The $40,000 LEGO Smart Schools Grant is distributed among the schools, with the district matching the funds. The grant implements programs designed to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills of elementary, middle and high school aged students
“The Smart Schools Grant Program will help further inspire teachers and students to embody how a hands-on, minds-on approach to learning can make a difference in their education,” LEGO Education North America president Stephan Turnipseed said.
Staff members at the high school recently completed course training and have implemented the LEGO learning system into the classroom.
“We are excited about the opportunities learning with LEGOs brings to the high school,” principal Kelly Halvorsen said. “It’s a great addition to the curriculum and provides students with opportunities for higher level thinking and hands-on learning experiences in the classroom.”:
On Monday morning, 34 students in Linda Pfeilsticker’s 9th grade American History class were given the opportunity to learn with Legos.
“It’s fun and interesting,” Der Vang, 15, said. “It’s unique and you get to use a new way to learn.”
Students were given the first part of the hour-long class to examine their box of Legos and construct anything they wanted.
Students used creativity to build scenes from movies like “300” and “Scarface,” broken down tractors, a prison and a witch being captured.
“You guys are in a creative mood today, I can tell,” Pfeilsticker said.
And the second half, students took what they were learning in the curriculum about Louis and Clark and constructed their own interpretation of what it might have looked like.
“There is definitely some critical thinking involved and it’s an application process,” Pfeilsticker said. “If they can put it together, they see that they have really learned the material.”
Promoting the hands-on approach to learning, Pfeilsticker said integrating Legos in with the STEM style of learning is something innovative at the high school.
“It’s also a nice, creative outlet that they don’t always get,” Pfeilsticker said.
Schools in 14 other districts throughout the nation also received the LEGO grant.
For more information about the LEGO Smart Schools Grant or the STEM style of learning, visit the website.