Category Archives: News

When the man behind Darth Vader suggests you look, you *really* should look

BRICKS 4 KIDZ Sydney | Edutopia STEM Infographic | www.edutopia.orgHere’s what you need to know:

  • People everywhere are realising that the careers of the future will depend more and more on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
  • These are not just traditionally geeky jobs like rocket scientists – these are what are considered “regular” jobs, like sales reps and forestry technicians.
  • We need to *inspire* kids at young ages about STEM concepts.
  • Unfortunately, the evidence in Australia is that our relative performance against other nations is falling.

George Lucas, the man who created the Star Wars films as well as Indiana Jones and other things, is a man with a mission.

In 1991, he co-founded Edutopia, an organisation dedicated to improving innovation in schools.  Currently, they are focused on engaging students with STEM, a successful approach to integrated studies that combines science, technology, engineering, and maths.

To that end, Edutopia produced this useful infographic, which we’ve shared here on the right.  It neatly captures:

  1. Why is STEM important (answer: many careers of the future will depends on mastery of STEM elements)
  2. How is the USA performing (answer: badly)
  3. What people can do (answer: get kids interested in STEM, early)

A full set of Edutopia’s resources for STEM are available here.

 

Why should you care?

Australian kids will be in the same jobs marketplace as US kids, given the increasingly global nature of the workplace.  The opportunities in STEM apply equally here as they do in the USA.

The Chief Scientist of Australia, Professor Chubb, agrees – in September, he released a report detailing his recommendations for a strategic approach to science and its related fields, titled Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future.

This new strategy is partly a result of our own tumbling results.  While the opportunities of STEM careers have grown dramatically over the last decade, PISA results from last year show that Australian high school students’ achievement in maths have slumped.  We’re going the wrong way.

Ask your school principal about their strategy for STEM.  If they don’t have one yet, they should get moving!

 

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One day and two day workshops now added to our Sydney school holiday programs! Fun for kids with LEGO®, located in Willoughby

 

BRICKS 4 KIDZ® | Sydney July 2014 School Holiday Programs

 

We had a great reception to the Sydney school vacation BRICKS 4 KIDZ® programs we previously announced, so we’re happy to launch new options for parents seeking something fresh and fun for kids over the winter break. With specially-created BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models, LEGO® games galore, and plenty of time for free-play, the kids are always having fun!

We have now added one day and two day workshops, for parents seeking an all-day activity.  Programs will start at 9am and finish at 4pm (LEGO® Creative Play time is available for children who need an early drop off or late pick up – details available on our school holiday programs page).

School holiday and vacation care is designed for kids ages 5 – 12 and are staffed by trained, screened BRICKS 4 KIDZ® instructors. Children will work and play with designated LEGO® Technic pieces such as gears, axles, electric motors and more! Themes include Mining and Crafting, Ticket To Ride, Space Adventures and the World of Super Heroes.

Children work in small groups to build projects using BRICKS 4 KIDZ® model plans. They also get to make creations of their own during our free play periods. We keep the action going with unique games and challenges using LEGO® Bricks to make sure they get their fill of LEGO® school holiday fun in an open, friendly and team-based environment!

All the vacation programs will be held at 1st Willoughby Scout Hall, 56 Laurel Street, Willoughby, NSW 2068.  Each child will receive a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt and a custom LEGO® mini-figure to take home.

There are only 20 spots in each workshop. You can download details here, to share with friends – get a group going!

Alternatively, if you are interested in any of the programs announced previously (five consecutive half-days) please note these are filling fast.

 

Here are the new sessions now available for the July school holidays in Sydney:

 

ONE DAY PROGRAMS ($90, INCL GST)

Ticket to Ride

4 July  ⚛  9am – 4pm

Get your ticket to ride at the BRICKS 4 KIDZ® amusement park! Kids will build rides, learning how to make things spin, roll, turn and rock.  They will take what they have learned to design their own thrills and challenges.  Motorised models maximise the action and fun. The day includes carnival-themed games, group challenges, model building and more.

At the end of the day, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 5+

 

Space Adventure 

11 July  ⚛  9am – 4pm

Inspired by NASA and Star Wars™, our Space Adventures program is packed full of models that will make your imagination blast off! Children will learn about real-life space exploration and build models related to the NASA space program. In addition, the day includes LEGO®  Star Wars™ themed models, group games, challenges and more. BRICKS 4 KIDZ® Space Adventure provides the spark for imagination and creativity.

At the end of the day, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 6+

 

TWO DAY PROGRAMS ($180, INCL GST)

Girl - DuckMining and Crafting

30 June – 1 July  ⚛  9am – 4pm

Experience the world of MineCraft® with LEGO® bricks in this creative school holiday workshop! Kids will begin by crafting their shelters and some of the mobs, critters and tools using traditional bricks and mosaic builds. Children will face new challenges each day building motorised BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models and crafting key elements from the MineCraft® game.

At the end of the two days, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 7+

Space Adventure 

2 – 3 July  ⚛  9am – 4pm

Inspired by NASA and Star Wars™, our Space Adventures program is packed full of models that will make your imagination blast off! Each day, children will learn about real-life space exploration and build models related to the NASA space program. In addition, the program includes LEGO®  Star Wars™ themed models, group games, challenges and more. BRICKS 4 KIDZ® Space Adventure provides the spark for imagination and creativity.

At the end of the two days, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 6+

 

Super Hero Academy

7 July – 8 July  ⚛  9am – 4pm

Join BRICKS 4 KIDZ® for two days building Super Heroes with LEGO® bricks. Explore all the caped crusaders and discover their super powers. Create a fantasy world and protect it against all of the evil arch enemies with custom contraptions made with LEGO® bricks.

At the end of the two days, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 5+

 

Ticket to Ride

9 – 10 July  ⚛  9am – 4pm

Get your ticket to ride at the BRICKS 4 KIDZ® amusement park! Kids will build rides, learning how to make things spin, roll, turn and rock.  They will take what they have learned to design their own thrills and challenges.  Motorised models maximise the action and fun. Each session includes carnival-themed games, group challenges, model building and more.

At the end of the two days, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 5+

 

Details

  • Payment can be made via credit card or bank transfer.
  • Please note that food is not provided. Please provide a nut-free snack for your child to enjoy during every day of vacation care. If staying for the full day children will need to bring their own nut-free lunch.

 

Check out our cancellation policy, missed classes policy and other notes here.

Get in quick before all the spots are gone!

 

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Spots on our July school holiday program are now available! Fun for kids with LEGO® Bricks, located at Willoughby

140527 Vacation Care brochure

 

Looking for something new for the kids in the winter break? BRICKS 4 KIDZ® vacation care is a fresh and fun way for kids to spend their school holidays! With specially-created BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models, LEGO® games, and plenty of time for free-play, the kids are always having fun. Themes for the coming break include Mining and Crafting, Super Hero Academy, Space Adventures and Amusement Parks.

Our vacation care is designed for kids ages 5 – 12 and is staffed by trained, screened BRICKS 4 KIDZ® instructors. Children work in small groups to build projects using BRICKS 4 KIDZ® model plans. They also get to make creations of their own during our free play periods. We keep the action going with games and challenges using LEGO® Bricks to make sure they get their fill of LEGO® fun!

All the vacation programs will be held at 1st Willoughby Scout Hall, 56 Laurel Street, Willoughby, NSW 2068, and run Monday through to Friday.  You can choose morning or afternoon sessions, or for hardcore little master builders, they can choose full days.  Each child will receive a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt and a custom LEGO® mini-figure to take home.

There are only 20 spots in each workshop.  You can download details here, to share with friends – get a group going!

 

Here are the available sessions:

Minecraft® Steve | BRICKS 4 KIDZ®Mining and Crafting

30 June – 4 July ⚛ Morning session 9am – 12pm

Experience the world of MineCraft® with LEGO® bricks in this creative school holiday workshop! Kids will begin by crafting their shelters and some of the mobs, critters and tools using traditional bricks and mosaic builds. Children will face new challenges each day building motorised BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models and crafting key elements from the MineCraft® game.

At the end of the week, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 7+

 

Space Adventure

30 June – 4 July ⚛ Afternoon session 1pm – 4pm

Inspired by NASA and Star Wars™, our Space Adventures program is packed full of models that will make your imagination blast off! Each day, children will learn about real-life space exploration and build models related to the NASA space program. In addition, the day includes LEGO® Star Wars™ themed models, group games, challenges and more. BRICKS 4 KIDZ® Space Adventure provides the spark for imagination and creativity.

At the end of the week, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 6+

 

Ticket to Ride

7 July – 11 July ⚛ Morning session 9am – 12pm

Get your ticket to ride at the BRICKS 4 KIDZ® amusement park! Kids will build a new ride each day, learning how to make things spin, roll, turn and rock. They will take what they have learned to design their own thrills and challenges. Motorised models maximise the action and fun. Each day includes carnival-themed games, group challenges, model building and more.

At the end of the week, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 5+

 

Super Hero Academy

7 July – 11 July ⚛ Afternoon session 1pm-4pm

Join BRICKS 4 KIDZ® for a week building Super Heroes with LEGO® bricks. Explore all the caped crusaders and discover their super powers. Create a fantasy world and protect it against all of the evil arch enemies with custom contraptions made with LEGO® bricks.

At the end of the week, all kids will go home with a custom LEGO® mini-figure and a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® t-shirt. Ages 5+

 

Details

  • Weekly vacation care runs Monday – Friday.
  • Morning sessions are from 9am-12pm
  • Afternoon sessions are from 1pm-4pm
  • The cost is $225 per week (morning or afternoon sessions), or $450 per week (morning and afternoon sessions)
  • Please note that food is not provided. Please provide a nut-free snack for your child to enjoy during every day of vacation care. If staying for the full day children will need to bring their own nut-free lunch.

 

Check out our cancellation policy, missed classes policy and other notes here.

Get in quick before all the spots are gone!

 

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The tallest LEGO® structure on Earth – and the kids involved will never forget it

Worlds Tallest LEGO Tower | Red Clay Consolidated School District

Now – that is a lot of LEGO®!

In August 2013, Delaware’s John Dickinson High School set the World Record for the tallest LEGO® tower, at 112 feet, 11.75 inches (that’s 11 stories tall!).  The LEGO® tower – constructed by students across the Red Clay Consolidated School District – is made up of more than 500,000 bricks and took months to complete.

Classes in all the schools in the district (primary, elementary and high schools as well as special needs schools) were assigned a piece to build. If you watch the video at the bottom of the post, you can see that some classes in particular worked hard to stamp their own identity on their piece. Rather than simply stack all the pieces into a square, they used the opportunity to create an Angry Bird, a US flag, or a message!  Its a great way to get all the students in the district working together on a project, and taking pride in the result.

Beyond the High School build team, it was a summer-long project for students from all over Red Clay. Students were involved in different facets for the project including talking to architects and engineers, raising the sponsorship for the project, learning about proportions and ratios using the brick—and also the economics of buying hundreds of thousands of LEGO® pieces.

Here’s a shot of a few of the class sections arriving on site:

Worlds Tallest LEGO Tower | Piece by Piece | HLNtv.com

 

 

Here’s a perspective shot of the tower, with one of the engineering team standing by.

Worlds Tallest LEGO Tower | Perspective | huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

The tower is a fantastic achievement by a community working together.  It is the first time ever that the world record for tallest LEGO® tower hasn’t been held by a country or the LEGO® company itself.

But lets face it – beyond all the feel-good messages about teamwork, etc, this is something that the kids involved will remember forever.

Photos used in this post came from the Huffington Post, HLNtv.com, and the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Check out this short video for more:

 

 

 

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Catch up on our most popular posts from the last month!

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Via our monthly email newsletter.  This month we featured Maker Culture, the need for more women in STEM fields, a post on our search for great people to join our team, and the LEGO® City built by strangers.

 

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“How STEM Jobs Can Take Women To The C-Suite And Beyond”: A message worth sharing!

“The STEM background is a great foundation for problem solving and leadership. Our job is to solve problems. A lot of people believe as an engineer you’re sitting in a cubicle in front of a computer by yourself. We have to collaborate to really innovate.”

Every year, Forbes magazine hosts a Women’s Summit in New York City to bring together successful women redefining careers.  This year one of the sessions focused on the opportunities presented to women through STEM-related careers (“STEM: The New Pathway to the Corner Office “).

At Bricks 4 Kidz we believe STEM Education is important for our childrenThe quote at the head of this post came from an article highlighting the key points from the session, and it gets right to the heart of the issue.  Too often, STEM careers are seen as the exclusive domain of nerdy “brogrammers” but the reality is that success in this field relies on the characteristics that women excel at – collaboration, communication and fresh points of view.  STEM careers can be a great launching pad for ambitious young women.

It is fantastic to see women standing up and arguing the case for more girls in STEM-related education.

It is a message that is worth sharing!

 

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“Making things with your hands can be really cool.”

Making things with your hands can be really cool | Image from www.ft.comAwhile ago we came across an article, written by Gillian Tett in FT Weekend.  In it, she describes how serendipity brought her family back into contact with LEGO® – a rainy weekend, two kids trapped in a hotel room, and LEGO® room service to save the day.

She extends the story to talk generally about the cultural impact LEGO® has had (and is having!) on our communities.  LEGO® is everywhere right now – the movie, the new model sets from Star Wars and elsewhere, and places like BRICKS 4 KIDZ that are encouraging the use of LEGO® to get kids engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts.  You could say that perhaps LEGO® is more influential right now than it ever has been.

Gillian raises good points about this impact.  The movie has something for everyone – and, side note here, if you haven’t seen it, give it a whirl!  Kids love the colour, action, music, characters and whimsical story.  But for parents, the story presents an interesting message.  As Gillian says in the article:

“The bigger message it imparts is this: making things with your hands can be really cool; creating real-life structures is (almost) as exciting as texting friends, playing computer games or watching American Idol. And right now that is a particularly valuable moral for American and European parents to hammer home.”

It is essential now for kids to engage with STEM concepts.  Articles everywhere point to early exposure to STEM as a key influencer on graduates’ levels of interest in science and engineering.  Governments, school systems and companies everywhere are launching initiatives to increase this exposure – another article today in NY City Lens covers the investments in NYC by public-private partnerships to get children into STEM-related activities.  In Australia too there is increasing discussion of such investments.  After all, STEM is the gateway to well-paying jobs and a stronger economy.

It is good to see.  We all know fads can be fleeting.  LEGO®, at eight decades old, has ridden the tide of popularity better than most.  And if it continues to excite kids about building and creating things with their hands, then we hope it has decades more to go.

** The image used in this post is from the original FT article – read it, and share!

 

BRICKS 4 KIDZ® is part of response to #STEM Education crisis

20130807132328 (1) copyThe parent company of BRICKS 4 KIDZ® is Creative Learning Corporation, a publicly-listed US company.  The company recently posted an article detailing the extent of the crisis facing STEM education, and how BRICKS 4 KIDZ® may be part of an effective response.

As the article notes, “The U.S. has 13 federal agencies that have committed over $3.4 billion to more than 250 different programs supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (“STEM”) programs, according to the Association of Science and Technology Centers (“ASTC”). Despite these investments, the World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 52nd in the quality of mathematics and science education.”

Australia faces similar challenges.The number of maths major enrolments in Australian universities fell by about 15 per cent in the past decade, while at the same time the demand for mathematicians increased by 52 per cent. The proportion of year 12 students taking physics, chemistry and biology fell by about a third in the past 10 years, and in international education performance assessments Australia is dropping down ranks.   The issue has received plenty of media attention.

BRICKS 4 KIDZ® offers programs designed to teach the principles of engineering, math and science to children ages 3-12+ using LEGO® Bricks. Classes are provided in school/after school, at special event programs, and at vacation programs designed to enhance and enrich the traditional school curriculum by triggering imagination and building confidence.  The experience of using LEGO® to build models embeds the STEM concepts in kids in ways that we can’t reach with traditional classroom-based learning.  As the article notes, “In a 2009 Purdue University study, researchers found that students that used hands-on learning were able to use drawings, words, or phrases to explain STEM concepts better than those learning the same material via lecture, particularly among non-native English speaking children.”  BRICKS 4 KIDZ® is proof of that.

If you are new to BRICKS 4 KIDZ® and unfamiliar with its programs, this short video is a great introduction.

 

We recently posted news of our July school holiday programs – please get in touch to learn more!

 

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LEGO® initiatives to improve #STEM Education

In the US, LEGO® is working with National Instruments to change the way that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) concepts are taught in classrooms.

Ann Rivet, an associate professor of science education at Teachers College at Columbia University, is quoted in the article:

“Just knowing a lot of science information doesn’t provide that kind of thinking about how to use that information in new situations,” she says. “However, when you engage the students in the actual act of problem solving and hands-on activities where they’re connecting what they’re learning and how they’re doing it with what they want to know, the resulting understanding is much more robust.”

Absolutely.  BRICKS 4 KIDZ® programs are designed with the same philosophy.  They combine the STEM concepts with hands-on model building sessions to engage the students and embed the learning.   If you’d like to know more about how this can be done in your school, feel free to get in touch.

 

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Stop the holiday brain drain! July vacation programs announced, limited spots

A BRICKS 4 KIDZ® vacation care is a fresh and fun way for kids to spend their school holidays! With specially-designed BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models, LEGO® games galore, and plenty of time for free-play, the kids are always having fun. Vacation care is specially designed for kids ages 5 – 12 and are staffed by trained, screened BRICKS 4 KIDZ® instructors.

In June / July 2014, we’ll be running four programs in Sydney’s Lower North Shore:

  • Mining and Crafting 1 (twice!),
  • Angry Birdies/Bad Piglets, and
  • Space Adventure

Limited spots are available.  Confirm your place now!

 

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