Wednesday 20 February 2019

Chickens on wheels, tonnes of Lego and plenty of happy kids

Around Wexford Town

Anna Hayes

There is scarcely a person who hasn't interacted with Lego, whether it's kids building their first model, parents remembering their own Lego building days, or the team at Wexford's branch of Bricks 4 Kidz where Lego and learning are seamlessly linked.

First opened in June 2015, Bricks 4 Kidz has become a firm favourite for many local families with camps running throughout the year, coinciding with school holidays. Bricks is one of the world's best known 'educational play' projects, a fun way of teaching kids the basics of STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths.

The week-long camps capture the imagination of the kids and while they might start small with their creations on Monday, by the end of the week, they have incorporated Lego Technic and even added engines to some of the creations, resulting in some hotly contested races down the Bricks' ramp.

Franchise Development Manager Peter Clarke explained that each kid gets a kit and a booklet with their Lego creation - on the day that I visit, the kids are making a variety of spiders - from the small kids' eight-step construction to the older kids who might have 50 steps in their build.

As part of the exercise, the kids are given a brief overview of what it is that they are building; how many legs a spider has, what they eat, right up to the shape of its exoskeleton for those building the more complicated models. This is a staple of any designs made - if building a dragster, the kids learn briefly about velocity and speed.

Peter pointed out: 'Because they're in the middle of playing, they don't realise that they're learning as well. They also get to be creative - quite often when kids have completed a design, they'll tell us they're not finished because they've had an idea of what else to add to it.'

As if to emphasise that point, a chicken on wheels comes barrelling down the ramp, followed by a helicopter with a few embellishments that made it road rather than air-worthy!

'They'll put wheels on anything!' Peter remarked, adding that Bricks was a 'hands-on, minds-on' learning experience, that they also brought out to schools and even to nursing homes for the residents and to facilitate kids interactions with grandparents.

Like any such camps, there is a focus on kids interacting with each other as much as with the Lego and Peter explained that they had often seen parents swapping contact details at the end of the week when their children made new friends. It was, he said, something that the tutors kept a look out for, to ensure that kids got the full benefit of the week.

'The shy kids come out of themselves, the Lego fanatics find themselves being challenged by the tasks and, most importantly, everyone has fun.'

Wexford People

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