This LEGO® Program Will Get Your Library in the Fast Lane
LEGOs offer a plethora of exciting learning opportunities for kids. Holly Storck-Post, youth services librarian at the Madison Public Library (WI), has found ways to take her LEGO programming to the next level.
During her MeeperBOT programs, kids build up their motorized BOTs with LEGOs and then use a mobile device loaded with a free app to control their creations. Not only do MeeperBOTs offer an easy way to introduce children to the world of coding with a simple, easy-to-learn app, they also provide opportunities for STEM-based learning and literacy connections. Below, Holly shares a MeeperBOT activity you can try in your own library or classroom that’s sure to get kids of all ages — as well as educators — excited about STEM.
Lesson Title: Race Cars
Grade Level: Pre-K, K/1
Time Frame: 45 min to 1 hour
- One BOT for each group of 2–4 kids (this is ideal, but the activity can be done with up to 5 kids per BOT)
- Mobile devices with MeeperBOT app to control each BOT
- Masking Tape (or something to mark start and finish lines on the floor)
- Stopwatches or other timing devices, one per group (optional)
Special Personnel Needed
In a public library, parents should stay and participate and help the kids. In a classroom or school library, a couple extra volunteers in addition to the person running the program would be helpful.
Before You Start
- Mark start and finish lines on the floor, about 10 feet apart.
- Prepare BOTs and devices to be used by kids. Optional: Create lanes out of tape/paper for each BOT to drive in.
What You Do
- Explain to the kids that they are going to build race cars and have a chance to race them.
- Read a book about cars or racing to the group (optional).
- Divide kids into groups, with 2–4 kids per BOT. Hand out BOTs and instruct them to choose LEGOs to build a race car on top of their BOTs. Allow approximately 10–15 minutes for building. Make sure kids take turns so that everyone has a chance to add LEGOs to the build.
- As groups finish, hand out mobile devices and let kids practice driving the BOT. Allow enough practice time for each kid to have a turn driving the BOT and learning how it works.
- Hand out stopwatches and practice how and when to start and stop the timer.
- Invite each group to the starting line for the races. One kid from each team will be the driver; instruct the remaining kids to step back and allow space around the race track. One kid from each team will be the timekeeper and time the group’s race car using the stopwatch.
- As a group, countdown “3, 2, 1, Go!” and race the BOTs. After all the MeeperBOTs reach the finish line, each team can report on their time. Record on poster paper.
- Repeat the race so that each kid gets a turn to be both driver and timer.
- If time allows, add obstacles to the race track and let all the kids have another turn racing while avoiding hitting the obstacles.
- Before racing, ask each group to come up with a name for their BOT. With the help of an adult, have kids write the name on a piece of paper to use as the parking spot for their race car.
Books for Read Aloud and Display:
- My Car by Byron Barton
- Cars Go by Steve Light
- Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
- The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca
Tips for Facilitators:
- Offer books on cars and racing for kids to get inspiration from, look at while they are waiting,
or check out.
- For larger groups, allow more time for racing. Let kids draw pictures of their race cars or look at books as extra activities during wait times.
- Kindergarten: Have students count how many LEGOs they used to build their cars. Then have them compare how many LEGOs they have on their BOT compared to another BOT. (K.CC.B.4, K.CC.B.5, K.CC.C.6)
- Grade 1: Have students count how many LEGOs are on their BOT and solve problems relating to taking away (subtraction) and adding to the number of LEGOs. (1.OA.A.1, 1.OA.C.5)
- Compare the number of LEGOs on one BOT (with a quantity of two digits) with the number of LEGOs on another BOT (with a quantity of two digits). (1.NBT.B.2, 1.NBT.B.3)
- Look at and order three BOTs according to their visual length and measure their length using iteration. (1.MD.A.1, 1.MD.A.2)
- Collect data on the number of LEGOs used for each BOT and have students practice organizing, representing and asking and answering questions about the data they collected. (1.MD.C.4)
- For kindergarteners, have them do a combination of writing, dictating or drawing to represent what they built, or have them tell in an orderly fashion about the event of building and racing their BOTs. (W.K.2, W.K.3)
- First graders can write an opinion piece about how to build and win a race with their BOT or explain how they built and raced their BOT. (W.1.1, W.1.2)