Milaño holds up his LEGO Superhero

Joseph’s kids Lauren and Milaño are in grades 5 and 2, respectively, at Constable Edward Finney School. That is the same school Joseph attended in grades 4-6. Recently, Milaño’s teacher, Tanya Quintana, reached out to the parents of the kids in her class to see if anybody would be interested in coming into her class to speak a little bit about their chosen careers. We thought this was a great opportunity to engage the community, promote design thinking for children, and have a little fun. And we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to run our 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge for the second time.

To read more about our first 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge at the Manitoba Filipino Business Council tradeshow, click here.

Tanya told the kids in her class that Mr. Joseph, Mr. Grant, and Mr. Paulo were visiting the class to speak about being Architects, but the kids seemed to be more excited about the big yellow LEGO® bag that we brought with us. We began by asking the kids a simple question: Has anybody seen The LEGO® Movie? Their little hands shot up with the utmost confidence. Clearly, we made a connection. Next, we asked if anybody could name the characters from the movie. This seemed to be a more difficult question, as the only ones they could remember were Batman and Unikitty. Then we asked if they remembered hearing the words “Master Builder” in the movie, and of course, they recognized the term immediately. It blew their minds to find out that the origin of the word “Architect” came from the Greek words for “Master” and “Builder”.

Then the fun began. We told them that they would have the opportunity to be Master Builders to learn about what we do as Architects. They were told that they get to design something with LEGO® pieces, but that they would have to build whatever we told them to. We kept things fairly easy, limiting the options to candy dispenser, archaeological tool, rocket, play structure, time machine, video game controller, piggy bank, superhero, and car. The kids took turns blindly selecting one of our business cards from a bag. Each student seemed very excited to face the challenge written on the card, and they hurriedly found space in the classroom to begin their designs.

As expected, the children came up with imaginative ways of solving the problem. Some found the task easier than others, but each student had fun learning about the process of design. Many of the children came to an immediate solution by committing to an idea and building it piece by piece. Some children started by analyzing the contents of the bag, separating and sorting each piece. This seemed to help them visualize the possibilities. Sometimes, the kids would start over or would make changes as the design progressed. Some watched to see what others were making before finding the confidence to do their own thing. Ultimately, there were 20 different approaches to solving the problem we put in front of them.

Through the 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge, the kids learned the importance of time management, the impact of limited resources, the benefit of having help, and the importance of play in the creative process. This gave them a little taste of what it might be like to practice as an Architect.

Every time we see somebody take the Design Challenge, we are amazed by the amount of creativity, confidence, and fun that is displayed. We also get to learn something valuable too. One of the most important lessons we learned from the kids in this grade two class came from an unlikely source: a child who had never played with LEGO®. When he was given the pieces to play with, he didn’t realize that they were supposed to connect together. So, he proceeded to build a “Play Structure” by placing the bricks side-by-side in a sort of landscape feature. He was the only child who did not use the pieces the way they were intended to be used, and as such, displayed a high degree of divergent thinking. This brought us to the realization that the most intriguing ideas can come from the most unlikely sources and that we should not use our biases to gauge what innovative value a person can bring to a project.

Overall, we believe that the 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge is a fun way for people to learn about our profession, and we believe that there is a lot of value in bringing this program into the classroom. Thank-you to Tanya for inviting us into her classroom and giving us the opportunity to share our passion with the students. We certainly had a lot of fun!

Check out the photos and videos below to see some of the kids’ creations and to hear them describe their work in their own words.

Kiera getting started on her LEGO challenge.
Building a rocket for the LEGO challenge.
Grant helps Ryder design a car.
Tanya helping one of her students.
A time machine built from LEGO pieces.
A play structure built from LEGO pieces.