Bridging The Gap Between Seniors and Students Using LEGO

On February 1st, 2013, our non-profit partner, Play-Well Outreach, ran an intergenerational program with residents of Tamalpais retirement home and a 4th grade class from Kentfield’s Bacich Elementary School.  The Larkspur Patch was there to do the story.   Here is the article.

Seniors and Students Build Wall and Relationships

Residents of The Tamalpais retirement community and students from Jennifer Sterling’s fourth grade class at Kentfield’s Bacich Elementary School used LEGOS® to build their own version of the Great Wall of China on January 30 during their regular visit arranged through LITA’s Bridging Generations program.  Led by guest Tim Bowen, Founder and President of Play-Well TEKnologies, the activity involved small groups of seniors and students building segments of the wall that were then all connected.  Bowen volunteered his time and brought the supplies to facilitate this activity.

Intergenerational Photo 1

Tim Bowen, Founder and President of Play-Well TEKnologies helps Bacich 4th grader and The Tamalpais resident complete their final LEGO wall project Credit Jessie Nicely

“We are so glad that Tim approached us to conduct this engaging activity since it enabled the students to teach something new to the seniors,  most of whom had never played with LEGOS® before,” said Dena Selix, LITA’s Intergenerational Coordinator and a  credentialed teacher. “Our goal with Bridging Generations is to bring seniors and students together through meaningful lessons and activities that foster ongoing relationships throughout the school year. Ironically, by building a wall together today, the seniors and students built upon their relationships with each other.”

Intergenerational Photo 2

Bacich fourth grader Ella Hyman shows longtime Bridging Generations participant Tamiko Flannery, a resident of The Tamalpais, how to build with LEGOS. Credit Dena Selix

In its fifth year, LITA’s Bridging Generations program matches elementary school students from schools around Marin to visit regularly with residents of long-term care facilities throughout the county.  This school year, there are a total of eight classes from schools around the county visiting nearby assisted living communities in their towns, including Greenbrae, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, San Rafael and Novato.

Intergenerational Photo 3

The Tamalpais resident and longtime Bridging Generations participant, Marilyn Davis, helps fourth grader Jake Klompus build the base of their wall. Credit Dena Selix

Founded in 1975, LITA is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of life for residents of Marin’s skilled nursing, assisted living and board and care facilities by matching volunteers for regular visits.  The organization’s four other programs are One-to-One Friends, The Pet Connection, LITA Families, and Holiday Gifts for the Elderly.

Based in San Anselmo, Play-Well TEKnologies offers classes, workshops, and summer camps at over 200 public school, private school, home school, and summer camp sites. Its project-based programs are designed to teach principles and methods of engineering, to encourage students to work through design challenges using what they have learned, and to allow students to work at their optimal pace.

Intergenerational Photo 4

Bacich Teacher Jennifer Sterling assists with her fourth graders’ wall built with The Tamalpais resident Edith Hana. Credit Dena Selix

Intergenerational 5

Myrna Pepper, resident of The Tamalpais and longtime Bridging Generations participant, works with her Bacich fourth grade buddies, Dexter Lama and Christopher Pontius, to complete their parapet. Credit Dena Selix

The entire article can be found here.

Kids Rebuilding Their City with LEGO After Hurricane Sandy!

Through our non-profit organization, Play-Well Outreach, we were lucky enough to work with children in March 2013, at Belle Harbor School in Rockaway, NY.  Many of the families there had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy.  The 55 kids, in attendance, helped rebuild part of Rockaway, in their own way, using LEGO.

Kids rebuilding their city out of LEGO.

Kids rebuilding their city out of LEGO.

We talked about the importance of the community, our engineers, construction workers, our leaders, and even how kids can help with the relief effort.  Parents even joined in on the fun once we got started. We split the engineers into 3 groups, and kids chose what part of the Rockaway they wanted to build.  It was rewarding to see the kids learning the importance of teamwork and being united, just as their families and community have learned during this time of need.

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At the end of the day, all the kids combined their sections of the city to rebuild Rockaway, NY.

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The  families, who in some cases are still homeless, carried a level of resilience that is inspiring.  Long after the storm, there are many families still working to rebuild their homes in Rockaway, and this gave the kids an opportunity to also contribute.  If you’d like to help support the work being done to rebuild in Rockaway and surrounding communities after Hurricane Sandy, you can donate to these organizations:

Rockaway Help

Americares

Here is a video of the devastation that hit Rockaway:

Giving Away LEGO on April 1st!

While doing inventory, we realized that our instructor kits have too much LEGO. So, we need to get rid of thousands of LEGO pieces. If you’d like some, just comment below. One last important piece of information: APRIL FOOLS!

LEGO Kit

Our Play-Well JEDI Engineering w/LEGO Program

We recently had so much fun running our new JEDI Engineering w/LEGO program.  Our instructors that are Star Wars nerds are really into teaching these programs, getting kids excited about the world of Star Wars, and answering what role engineers played in creating this world.

We ask our students, “who do you think built the X-Wing, Tie Fighter, Millenium Falcon, Death Star, Imperial Cruiser, Clone Troopers, and even the Jedi Academy?  Engineers.”  Then as engineers, we begin to reconstruct the world and story lines of Star Wars through our LEGO building.

Check out some pictures from a JEDI Engineering camp we recently held in Ventura County, CA.

Our staff member, Jared, with a group of mini Jedi Engineering builders.

Our staff member, Jared, with a group of mini Jedi Engineering builders.

A LEGO battle droid model and a X-Wing prototype welcomed these Jedi Engineers to the camp.

A LEGO battle droid model and a X-Wing prototype welcomed these Jedi Engineers to the camp.

If you’d like more information about our JEDI Engineering programs, click HERE.  We will be offering JEDI Engineering camps in various parts of the country this summer.  If you’d like to know if we are offering these camps in your area, simply click here and search for camps near you: http://www.play-well.org/summer/2013/.

PLAY WELL!

Meet Our Instructor, AG Osborne!

Meet Alex Gray Osborne, also known as AG.  AG is our newest North Carolina engineering instructor, and a recent graduate from North Carolina State University.  He told us that #4 on his bucket list was to get paid to play with LEGO.  This job helped him cross off one of the items on his bucket list.

AG's Bucket List.  #4. Getting paid to play with LEGO.

AG’s Bucket List. #4. Getting paid to play with LEGO.  Check!

AG recently helped out at our LEGO Kidsfest in Richmond, VA.  One of his jobs was to lay in LEGO.

AG recently helped out at our LEGO Kidsfest in Richmond, VA. One of his jobs was to lay in LEGO.

AG hanging out with R2D2.

AG hanging out with R2D2 and C3PO.

Last summer, AG worked in the Sierra Nevadas assisting the US Forest Service.  He also found time to drive cross-country.  Now AG hopes that some of the money he earns from this job can help him fulfill the next item on his bucket list: learning how to scuba dive.  If you are interested in working for Play-Well TEKnologies and are in the process of fulfilling something on your bucket list, visit our Play-Well Jobs Page.

Curious George, KQED, and Play-Well!

We recently participated in KQED’s Annual Donor Appreciation Day.  The theme of the event was Curious George.  So, we decided to create the trains, planes, automobiles and the city that Curious George plays with.  Luckily, we had the help of some awesome LEGO Engineers to help us build.

We brought over 20,000 pieces of LEGO for kids to help us build Curious George’s city!

Curious George’s Helicopter

Curious George & Our President, Tim Bowen

The city being built!

The city is finally complete!

The Play-Well Staff that made this possible.

If you would like us to participate in your organization’s next event, contact Jeff Harry at jeff@play-well.org.

PLAY WELL!

Designing A LEGO Model of Boulder JCC

On Sunday, October 14th, 2012, we collaborated with the Boulder JCC in Colorado for their Kids Capital Campaign “Day of Building.”  Our Play-Well Design Team created a LEGO model of Boulder JCC, which was revealed to 250 of Boulder JCC’s members.  Here is a picture of the LEGO Model of Boulder JCC:

The model was initially designed in SF by our Design Team and then shipped to Colorado. Here is it right before it got packed away for its trip.

With all their members, we had ice cream, built more LEGO structures, and celebrated the unveiling of the LEGO Boulder JCC.  Here are pictures of the event.

The unveiling of the Boulder JCC LEGO Model.

On the right is Alex Shullman, the main architect of the Boulder JCC LEGO Model. Alex is also the VP of Curriculum at Play-Well.

The best part of the day was seeing budding architects inspired to build cool structures on this Kids Capital Campaign  Day of Building.

If you would like us to  design a LEGO Model for your organization or would like us to be a part of one of your events, feel free to email us jeff@play-well.org.