Teaching Tip – Use Lego To Teach Science

Lego is amazing. I hesitate calling it a toy because it is so much more than that.

I have used it in my classroon in a variety of different ways and I know that its educational benefits are pretty much limitless.

I have yet to see a kid who doesn’t like playing with Lego. But as teachers, we can move beyond simply having a Lego bin available for free time play.

We can use Lego to let our students explore scientific concepts, to build working simple machine models, and to be totally engaged in their work.

Lego Gears

My school purchased 8 of these educational Lego kits. This kit focuses on gears and nothing else.

You can teach an entire unit on simple machines using Lego. I just have the students work in groups of three when using these kits.

Each kit has about a dozen models that the students can build.

There are easy to follow instructions and they highlight the scientific principles involved in each model.

I photocopied the instructions and whited-out the scientific explanations so that the students could make predictions before testing out their creation.

Here is an example.

How fast do you think the small wheel will turn when you turn the large driver?

I covered every aspect of the Grade 4 Science Unit on Gears and Pulleys just by using these Lego kits.

Lego Pulleys

The pulley kits work pretty much the same way.

The students work through building models, forming predictions, and then testing out their creations to make observations about the scientific principles involved. 
There are even some puzzles that students need to figure out how to solve. These allow for level four thinking and can be used to challenge students who easily understand the material. 
You can learn more about each model and the science behind them from Ali Sanjaya’s website. There are some great diagrams and animations there to help students understand what they have built. 

Use What You Have

If you don’t have the budget to buy these specialized kits, you probably have some pulleys and gears in the bin of Lego you already have. Or perhaps you could scrounge some from the other classrooms at your school. 
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