Legos leap, crouch, pounce, roar, and growl.
At least they did Saturday at Lee’s Summit Library, where children built, coded, and programmed Legos into roaring lion robots.
The roaring lion project is one of a number of STEAM-Powered Programs hosted by the Mid-Continent Public Library as part of their Beyond the Books series. During these events, children and teens explore design-based learning while incorporating coding and virtual reality using the latest digital technology in classes centered on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary focus of the monthly programs is to engage young people in fun, hands-on projects that increase their knowledge and experience with STEAM concepts. While acquiring STEAM-related competencies, participants also build communication, problem-solving, digital literacy, and reading skills.
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“The library holds the programs to emphasize the importance of STEAM,” said Jodanna Bitner, library access specialist and STEAM program coordinator. “Technology is expanding everywhere in our lives and these interactive projects raise kids’ interest in STEAM subject areas at an early age. They see how they can have fun in future STEAM-related jobs.”
Saturday’s roaring lion project started by having the children organize Lego kit pieces on a two-dimensional assembly diagram. Once the Legos were laid out, the robot builders launched construction using a computer guide for reference.
After the not-so-ferocious creatures were standing on their own four paws, the children programmed and coded their robots to crouch, pounce, roar, and lay down.
“Programming and coding are an important part of STEAM careers and robotics ties into this and makes the learning fun,” Bitner said.
Building and taming the lion robots was even a family affair as Linda Hyde, of Lee’s Summit, attended with her grandchildren, Brayden and Brynlee Sword of Overland Park. All three learned quite a bit about the fine art of robot building and had a great time.
“They’re so excited about this,” Hyde said. “They’re not afraid. I get excited, too.”
Brayden, 11, said, “I love how robots move around, and I like learning how to program.”
Not too far away, Jackson Standlea, 9, attended the event with his brother, Jared, and grandparents, Tim and Debi Mercer.
The entire family collaborated to breathe digital life into the lion. Jackson loves building with his hands and all things STEAM. His future plans include architectural or engineering studies.
“Kids have so much fun with a package of Legos,” Debi Mercer said. “You put a package in front of them and they have such a great time. They build the most amazing things. I love to watch them be creative.”
Bitner agreed, “The creativity expands children’s minds and they will come up with the most incredible ideas.”