STEAM-Based Learning Brick By Brick
Writer Michael Vyskocil
Photographer Lucia De Giovanni
If you’re Snapology of Reading, you could build robot models with working motors and sensors, create movies with stop-motion animation and Lego and K’Nex bricks, build a solar-powered Lego car and, well, you get the idea … unlimited possibilities for creativity.
The Reading affiliate of this Pittsburgh-based company engages children in playful learning through activities that focus on STEAM-based learning—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. More than mere child’s play alone, the creative play and classes build children’s creative thinking and problem-solving skils.
On a recent visit, ten-year-old Finigan Arthur McCarty demonstrated how to create a drumming robot monkey using a specialized Lego Education kit and digital interface that walks children step-by-step through construction and robot operation.
Kids from prekindergarten to middle school can find age-appropriate activities, ranging from Junior Creators Club to Minecraft. Structured classes introduce students to basic engineering principles, design, and motion animation, says Kristie Piacine, curriculum director for Snapology of Reading.
Advanced tech-based robotics programs, like the Robotics Rescue Mission, Combat Robots, and Remote Control Challenge, introduce higher-level critical thinking and engineering concepts to save towns from natural disasters, play robot football, or complete missions with remote-controlled Lego robots.
With this level of learning taking place, who wants to be delayed by slow Internet speeds? Piacine says the existing Internet speeds available in the Berks County area can pose challenges when she has Snapology participants trying to upload their Lego stop-animation movie files—complete with sound and video—to the Web or being unable to bring everyone together in the same “world” for Minecraft.
“We are moving into a more technical space, and as we introduce new tech-savvy classes locally, such as renewable energy and video game design, we need the local online components keeping pace with the technology we are teaching,” she says.
If Snapology shows what can happen when Lego and K’Nex bricks meet innovation, imagine what more could be possible if they met ultra-high-speed gigabit Internet.
Snapology of Reading
220 N. Park Rd.
Park Place Center
Building 5, 2nd Floor
Wyomissing, PA 19610