February 5, 2015 - Learning looked like playing Tuesday evening during the WeDo Lego Robotics program kick-off in the Keokuk Public Library Round Room.
The first of 12 monthly sessions – part of Lee County Economic Development Group’s Grow Lee initiative – was a hit, according to LCEDG Marketing and Communications Manager Dana Klesner.
“I’m very excited about this program,” she said. “It’s going to be fun and interesting.”
Klesner added that WeDo Lego Robotics has drawn a lot of attention.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from students and from parents as well,” Klesner said.
Each session is limited to 16 kids in grades 2-6, so pre-registration is required. Only 15 participated Tuesday, as one child who had registered was unable to attend. The group consisted of a nearly equal number of boys and girls.
The waiting list for the inaugural session contained 14 names.
“We want to keep providing this program in Lee County and expand it to reach more students,” Klesner said. “We hope to eventually bring it to the schools.”
During each session, students work in pairs and use kits to build Lego models that are integrated with motors, gears and sensors. A software program installed on eight library laptop computers takes students step by step through the building and programming processes.
Payten Cornelius, 10, collaborated with 9-year-old Emma Short.
“I like computers and I like Legos – that’s all I can say,” Cornelius said.
Short enjoys building people and towers with the Legos she has at home, but she came to WeDo Lego Robotics because she wanted a challenge.
“I hope to learn to make bigger things, harder things,” she said.
The students were excited as they opened their Lego kits and examined the colorful plastic parts they would use for their first creation – a pair of dancing ducks.
A rubber band wrapped around a gear that’s hooked to a motor and sensor system plugged into a laptop, causes the ducks to spin on top of the base. The way the rubber band is fastened determines the ducks’ speed and direction.
Software allows the students to create a programming sequence to include sound and movement. The sounds of humming motors and chirping birds filled the Round Room as eight pairs of dancing ducks came to life.
Assisting in the building and programming were the kids’ parents, as well as several community volunteers.
“I think it’s a pretty cool program,” said Pat Martin, watching as his son Quentin set up a programming sequence with partner Malachi Harris, 9. “I wonder if this is going to be available for home (use). We’ve had Legos at home for 25 or 30 years.”
Pat said Quentin has inherited a large variety of Legos from his older siblings. The instructions for the building sets have long since disappeared, but Quentin improvises.
“He builds planes, boats, everything you can think of,” Pat said. “He’s got an engineer’s mind.”
The next session is Tuesday, March 10. Parents can begin registering their kids for that class on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 524-1483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no cost to participate.
About Grow Lee
Grow Lee is a collaborative effort between LCEDG, Lee County schools, Southeastern Community College, SCC’s Center for Business, businesses and industries, the workforce and interested stakeholders.
The purpose of the initiative is to educate citizens about opportunities in Lee County and increase the quality of the available workforce.
For more information about Grow Lee, contact Klesner at 319-931-7182 or email@example.com.
By Megan McNeill - Daily Gate City Newspaper