Saturday, August 01, 2015

LEGO Chain Reactions: LEGO for teaching engineering and reading

Lego Chain Reactions: Design and Build Amazing Moving MachinesLego Chain Reactions: Design and Build Amazing Moving Machines by Pat Murphy and the Scientists of Klutz Labs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very different LEGO product, it is about using LEGO system and Technic pieces to build simple machines, so it as much learning about simple machines as it is about building. And the fact that the end result is not a static object but a series of motions is a big plus in our book.

The LEGO Chain reaction set is a book with 10 plans for building a structure that supports a combination of simple machines. The assumption is that you have the LEGO system pieces (the standard bricks and plates) and it provides you with a few Technic pieces (beams and pins). For each project, there is an introduction to the project, instructions to build the project, instructions on how to work the project once it is done, and an explanation of how it works. What links the 10 projects together is use of either moving pieces or plastic balls that go in motion and becomes the trigger for the next project.

My four year old son and I have gone through all 10 projects. And we have done sequences of up to four of the projects in a row. In making the projects, we actually ran out of bricks and had to do substitutions and use Duplo blocks to get enough volume to build up the structures. With every project, I have him read the text on the project, then have him explain to an audience (mommy and any lucky visitors) what the project(s) are doing.

The fact that the projects are so different, and that after making them, they are very playable is the appeal of this. My son enjoys making the completed projects work, and especially making the chain, then trying to explain what it all means.

In the end, my assessment is that this is a great use of LEGO, build things that then have actual use, and use it to engage and educate the builder. It combines engineering and language (explaining why the projects work the way they do). And abstract enough that the builders may be able to apply these designs in new ways. Highly recommended
Explaining the four stage LEGO Chain Reaction project
Explaining how a four stages chain reaction project works
View all my reviews
Post a Comment