Walk into the fourth-grade classroom at Prudence Crandall Elementary School in Enfield and it appears students are just playing around with Legos.
They’re actually learning about history, through their school’s multi-year partnership with the toy company, which has its North American headquarters in Enfield.
“We work closely with our friends at Lego and they have donated the product, computers that support many of the products, as well as a full time educational adviser,” said Anne McKernan, Enfield's Chief Academic Officer.
Students take on projects such as writing about key figures in American history. They first build a Lego model, then use that model as the inspiration for their essays.
“In my ten years teaching, I’ve never seen as much excitement to write as I have this year,” said Andrew Duperre, a teacher at the school.
Student David Lima wanted to learn more about Neil Armstrong, and used Legos to create an out-of-this-world moon landing scene.
“I can have a visual of it and I can see what I’m doing,” said Lima.
Madison Veilleux created a 3D model of her favorite president, Thomas Jefferson. “It helps me with my writing, it helps me put more details in my writing, and it helps me be more creative,” said Veilleux.
The special Legos are designed specifically for educational purposes, with lesson plans created by educators to foster collaboration around curriculum objectives.
“We know through a lot of research and studies that have been done that there are true educational benefits, that children are able to express themselves, are able to get hands on, and they are able to have a different outlet rather than just writing or doing straight math,” said Amanda Santoro, a Lego spokesperson.
By the end of this three-year pilot program, all of Crandall’s students will have completed a Lego class. There is a plan to expand the program throughout Connecticut in the future.