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Classroom Happenings: Building Connections

The Steward School
Learning engineering skills, brick by brick 
Picture classroom tables heaped with colorful Legos. Excited kindergartners gather around; they’re eager to learn the fundamentals of how to build sturdy structures. Along the way, they’ll also build their teamwork, communication, and creative-thinking skills. 

That was the scene recently as students in Kindergarten Teacher Amy Hendrick’s class had a lesson from Innovation Specialist Suzanne Casey, whose engineering projects are always unique and engaging. Teaching Lower Schoolers foundational skills such as how to build helps them gain autonomy and confidence. It also allows students to explore their creativity and sharpen their problem-solving skills — vital components of the Steward experience. 

“First, we discussed the basics of our engineering curriculum: that engineers do not give up; that engineers use tools and materials to solve problems and help people; and that engineers help each other and learn from one another,” said Ms. Casey, who collaborates with all of the kindergarten teachers throughout the year. 

The children also listened attentively as Ms. Casey read “Billions of Bricks,” a rhyming picture book written by Kurt Cyrus that follows a day in the life of a construction crew building with bricks.  

“We talked a lot about the process of making bricks, what you can use a lot of bricks for, and what sort of brick-like material we could use to build  — including Legos, of course!” said Ms. Casey. “We also brainstormed about some of the different things students could build, and we gave them time to explore with the Legos and other materials and build something of their choice.” The result? Castles, swimming pools, robots, houses, and even an airport. 

In a subsequent lesson, students built bridges in the School gym from foam blocks that they could walk over. Future lessons about building will incorporate additional materials, including craft sticks, blocks, and a rather non-conventional item: gumballs. 

“The children have impressed me with their stamina and task commitment,” said Ms. Casey. “I look forward to seeing how they will approach future engineering challenges and hope that families see these foundational skills manifested at home as well.”  

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