NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Legos Build Student Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

March 9, 2015

The Chicago area school district U46 had their STEM Expo last weekend at one of the district's high schools. Over 1,100 students, from grades K-12, were able to display their individual projects that highlighted their skill and knowledge of the science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) subjects.

Legos has already been widely used as a way to engage children the STEM subject areas very early, says National Center for Policy Analysis senior research fellow, Lloyd Bentsen. Since 1992, the LEGO Group found that the younger they try to teach STEM related subjects to children by using LEGOs, the more of an impact they can have on their education. The First League and Junior First League have 10,000 students actively involved in LEGO competitions in 2013. The K-3rdgrade students are tasked with developing a theme-based model. The 4-8th grade students participate in a robotics competition with a specific theme challenge.

The First Leagues showed significant impacts by 2009.

  • 90 percent of the older students showed more interest in math and science.
  • 80 percent of the older students showed more interest in science and technology.

In U46's STEM Expo, students are expected to do all of the work while parents or team leaders act as mentors to the projects. This models a "classic apprentice approach" that seems to be working to actively engage students in STEM. Participates are proud to have moved beyond the "Legos" stage of STEM projects to more advanced materials used in constructing their projects.

New ways to increase competition in public/private education are always a benefit to the entire education system. Projects that promote student engagement in STEM subjects are successfully entering both the private schools and the public schools. As more school choice options appear, even more competition within the educational system will happen in educational areas such as STEM.

Source: Lloyd Bentsen IV, "School District Uses Classic Apprentice Approach to STEM Engagement," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 3, 2015. 


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