Second grade teacher Sue Michaud received a sizable grant for "beginner" LEGO robotics kits a couple of years ago, and she is well aware of the benefits of using them in the classroom. Knowing that I run the LEGO Robotics program at the middle school level (with more advanced kits), she approached me with the idea of having middle school students teach second graders about simple machines using LEGOs. It was a GREAT idea!
The second graders were engaged and captivated by the creations built by the middle school students. As part of their visit, they had to fill in spaces on BINGO cards with examples of simple machines. Instead of using chips or crossing out the boxes, the students drew pictures depicting the things they saw.
I could not have been more proud of the middle school students. They were patient, warm and kind to those little kids. I could see a bit more softness than normal in the way they carried themselves as they interacted with the second graders. Maybe they saw a little bit of themselves in the faces of the little ones. The middle school years are a time of acute focus on oneself, so it's important for kids to be reminded that each one of us is part of a bigger picture. Even though kids may be in different schools and different developmental stages, they are all still KIDS who are curious, energetic, imaginative, creative and inquisitive.
A big part of Expeditionary Learning at BMS is giving students the opportunity to present their learning to authentic audiences. This Simple Machines Exposition to second graders was a perfect example of this model. We all agreed it was a great success and plan to continue the exposition annually!