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LEGO learning is for teachers, too

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By Kelly Cantrall

LEGO robots have long been a fixture during the summer at the local community college, but now it’s not just children who learn how to build and operate them.

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Elizabethtown Community and Technical College hosted a two-day training session for leaders of FIRST LEGO League clubs in the area this past week, following a camp for students interested in LEGO robotics. The training provided information to educators on how to build and program the robots, as well as how to compete in annual competitions.

This is the second year the college has provided training through funding from the National Science Foundation, said Jeff Rivera, an associate professor for electrical technology. Some of the attendants have a LEGO club and others are interested in starting one.

The clubs’ mission is to interest students in careers in the STEM fields — science, technology, education and math. The competitions involve building and programming a robot that can complete a series of tasks, which uses knowledge in those fields.

Gifted and talented teachers at Hardin County Schools attended the training. They use the robots in their curriculum. Teresa Morgan, HCS director of elementary instruction, said the program fits well with what they do in the schools.

“We are trying to move to problem-based learning,” Morgan said.

Robots make the subjects fun to students, and it hopefully will lead them into the engineering track at the planned college and career center.

“It will be a great lead-in, an emotional hook for those kids,” she said.

Ruthie Miller leads the club at Lakewood Elementary School. She hopes in its second year, the Lakewood club can improve at the state competition.

“This year, we’re hoping to step it up a little bit, and really kind of compete a little bit,” Miller said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.