Outside the Lego Box

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Lego is such a wonderful versatile thing. I wanted to write a post about a couple of the ways we’ve used lego in homeschooling and play, and I want to invite others to share pictures and stories of lego creations.

a lego copying machineDrawing Machines.
We made several attempts at lego drawing machines. The one pictured was probably the easiest and most successful. Use it to get to similar but not congruent copies of whatever you’re drawing. The best part is to sit there with it in your hands and try to figure out how to explain why it is that it works the way it does.

We made other drawing machines too. When we were studying gears we looked at ways in which to convert a circular motion into a straight line, and we taped a pencil on to record the motion.
Stop-motion films.

We’ve experimented with stop-motion using lego characters and a small camera. We try to mount the camera so its in one stable position. The easiest way to get a sense of what the stop-motion would look like without worrying about video programs is to do a quick slide-show of the photos.

Water Wheels.

When we were reading the book Mill by David Macaulay we decided to build a water-mill. We experimented with the angle strength of the water necessary to get the water to turn our wheel, and we discussed ways we could lighten the wheel to make it more efficient. Our attempts to have the turning wheel move equipment in a lego factory never quite succeeded but someday I hope to try again.

Structures for other science projects
Lego can be used for other projects, like this spinning platform holding colored water for a science experiment.
We’ve used lego to build walls for marble mazes. We’ve used lego to build test-tube holders. We’ve used lego to build a turn-table on which we could place jars of colored water and lego to hold a flashlight to shine light through the jars onto the wall.

Lego is a convenient building material. The children already know how to use it. Structures built with it are stronger than the structures we’ve built out of cardboard and tape. When we’re finished everything can be taken apart, there is no paper-mache something-or-other dying a slow lingering death or being buried beneath the dust-bunnies.

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