Mat-Su Legos-not the same toy you grew up with | Local News Stories | frontiersman.com

2022-03-25 10:00:35 By : Ms. Mavis Ying

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Board featuring some of the elements students have to design and solve at Mat-Su Legos 

An example of programmable robot students work with at Mat-Su Legos

Board featuring some of the elements students have to design and solve at Mat-Su Legos 

An example of programmable robot students work with at Mat-Su Legos

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Legos. For many, they are the toys of our youth, with hours spent constructing towers, buildings, boats, or whatever childhood imaginations created. And for parents, that plastic block that they somehow step on no matter how tidy the floor may be.

For a new generation, Legos have turned into so much more. In the Mat-Su, one woman is using Legos to turn into fun program that focuses on building interest in science, technology, and engineering. But also using Legos to help with creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Chandra McCain-Finch has been working with homeschool students for the past four years in coding and robotics classes. Starting with middle school and utilizing a specific Lego set called WeDo, McCain-Finch set about creating after school Lego Coding and Robotics here in the Mat-Su Valley.

Students in Kindergarten and first grade are able to begin, learning simple coding and other basic robotic skills that they will build upon as they progress into the next levels.

“It’s not competitive at this level. It’s more like a science fair, where they show off what they’ve done so far,” McCain-Finch explained, “the students are learning while having fun, which is the best kind of learning.”

As students stick with the classes and progress into middle school, they work with Lego elements and moving parts to conceptualize and build robots. They learn to design, come up with solutions using Lego elements, apply real-world math and science concepts, research challenges facing today’s scientists. They also learn team-building and presentation skills, as student teams must present their research and findings to a panel before demonstrating a technical review of their robot.

McCain-Finch is quick to add that her role is to be a coach, not the one doing everything for the students.

“I’m there for the kids, to guide them, mentor them, maybe keep them on track of the task. But the work is all them. They are responsible for it," McCain-Finch said.

Beyond the STEM lessons the students are getting, McCain-Finch also teaches the young students important lessons about being safe on the internet, standing up for themselves, and having pride in their work and accomplishments.

There is a schedule available for upcoming April robotics and coding classes, and plans for summer classes are underway. She also works with Youth360 and the Knik Tribe to provide access to the classes.

“The response has been great; people are already signing up and asking for more," she said.

For more information about upcoming classes, visit the “MatSu Legos Classes” page on Facebook.

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