Warwick Elementary Builds Star Wars Worlds with 60,000 LEGO® pieces

On May The Fourth, 2017, Warwick Elementary Families and Play-Well TEKnologies collaborated to build three separate Star Wars Worlds.  Those worlds included the Ewok Village, Cloud City, and the trenches of the Death Star.  Here is what over 200 families were able to create in just two hours…

If you’d like us to do an event like this at your school, visit our special events page for details: http://play-well.org/about-special-events.shtml

Playing Well At TedX On Board

We created a TedX Sign for TedXOnBoard in San Francisco.  It was made up of 15,000 LEGO® pieces and it was for the Conference: Uncharted.

If you’d like us to help out with your upcoming event, visit our Special Events Page Here.

Play-Well Adventure at Adobe

We were lucky enough to participate again in Adobe’s Field Trip for their families at their Utah, Seattle, and San Jose office.  There were dinosaurs, Hula dancers, gliders, clowns, and of course, we brought the LEGO.  Hopefully, we were able to inspire some future engineers in the process.

Adobe – Lehi, UT

Future Adobe Campus in LEGO. #adobelife #adobeideas #adobe #playwell

A post shared by Play-Well TEKnologies (@playwellteknologies) on

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Our booth is ready for people. We usually refer to the name though as LEGO.

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Even a dinosaur had to stop by our booth at one point to check out what was happening.

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Our jousting battles were in full swing. Some kids had returned from last year just to participate.

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We made the Adobe logo out of LEGO. 3 ft. by 3 ft. We used it as the starting point for our Adobe campus.

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One of our first additions to the Adobe Campus.

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The campus is coming along. People keep adding their office to the mix.

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Of course we were also racing cars.

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The campus is nearly complete.

Adobe – Seattle

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At the Seattle office of Adobe, we built LEGO right under the bridge.

 

Adobe – San Jose, CA

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For Adobe Field Trip in San Jose, we built the frame of an Adobe sign and kids finished the build.

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We even brought a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge in LEGO.

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We built a LEGO Minecraft world to go with the Adobe Sign.

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The Adobe sign is complete. Thanks for having us!

 

We Helped The Glide Community Build a 7.5 LEGO Logo

On Sunday, July 12th, we helped GLIDE and families in the Tenderloin neighborhood build a 7.5 LEGO Heart of their Glide logo for Sunday Streets.  A huge reason we were able to build so much of the sign was because of the awesome volunteers from Twitter For Good.  Thanks to everyone that helped make this idea become a reality. Check out some of the pictures from the event below:

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We began the sign at 11 AM and we only had until 3:30 PM to complete it. (Picture Source: Leah from Twitter)

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Kids from all around the tenderloin community came to help. Some simply got off their bicycles to help. (Picture Source: Leah from Twitter)

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By 12 PM, we had much of the lettering done and the complete bottom done. (Picture Source: Leah from Twitter)

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Here is the awesome designer of the sign, Marco, and Leah, one of the awesome volunteers from Twitter. Without their help, this would never have been completed. (Picture Source: Leah from Twitter)

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Now, the unconditionally part of the sign needed to be built. (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

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We are getting closer. (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

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This was one of our phenomenal helpers. She was able to do a lot of the hard part of build, filling in the letters with LEGO. (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

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One interesting challenge of making a sign like this is that pressure is applied to both sides of the sign, so it is much harder to get LEGO into the middle. She was able to do it with some friends. (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

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Almost there. (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

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We even needed a few step stools to get those last pieces up at the top. (Picture Source: Adejire Bademosi from Twitter)

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We did it! (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

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The heart will be displayed at freedom hall at Glide Memorial Church. (Picture Source: Dori Caminong)

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Let’s just say the Glide staff was excited about it and the entire Sunday Streets event. Thanks for having us! (Picture Source: Alain McLaughlin from Glide)

Thanks again for having us Glide!  If you’d like to do a special LEGO event in your area, click HERE for details.

Female Scholars of Science & Technology with Alice Finch

Femal Scholars with Alice Finch

World-Renowned LEGO Artist, Alice Finch, the creator of the 400,000 piece LEGO Hogwarts introduced students to the many technological advancements contributed by female scientists and engineers today at Play Well Northwest Activity Center. Children learned about these female scholars by experientially building LEGO models of their great inventions. This is Alice Finch’s kick-off event as part of a larger project to introduce a variety of women scholars to kids through a LEGO curation.

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Alice teaching kids about Emily Roebling, the woman who saved the Brooklyn Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Warren_Roebling).

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Students building our cable stay bridge.

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The cable-stay bridge was 6 ft in length. The bridge is complete with spinning diamond satellites.

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Celebration. The bridge is complete.

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Alice Finch displaying her Hogwarts Castle and all the details inside. There is a working slide inside.

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We are now getting ready to build our city, but we first must determine the roles of each city planner. This city has its own garbage area, as well as a forest.

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Teaching kids on how to build a DNA Strand.

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DNA Strand complete.

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How did Steve from Minecraft get in here?

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Now that is a science lab.

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This is a tallest and most complex DNA strand we’ve seen so far.

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Alice Finch answering questions about what it is like being a LEGO Artist.

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Students hard at work.


11 14 Check out some of the pictures from the event here.

Press Advisory: Female Scholars of Science & Technology with Alice Finch

Femal Scholars with Alice Finch

WHEN: Saturday, April 18th, 10 AM – 5:30 PM

WHERE: Play-Well Northwest, 11743 124th Avenue NE, Kirkland, WA 98034

Rachel Swaby asks her readers, in a recent Wire magazine article called “We Need To Stop Ignoring Women Scientists” can you identify a female scholar of science and technology who has helped to change the world?  For most people, the answer is no.

Play-Well TEKnologies and World-Renowned LEGO Builder Alice Finch, the creator of the 400,000 piece LEGO Hogwarts Castle, are hoping to change that. On Saturday, April 18th from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM, Alice Finch (with a little help from Play-Well) will introduce students to the many technological advancements contributed by female scientists and engineers.  Alice and Play-Well will do this by having children learn experientially through building LEGO models of these great female scholars’ inventions. This is Alice Finch’s kick-off event as part of a larger project to introduce a variety of women scholars to kids through a LEGO curation.

Why is this such an important issue to address? CNN recently reported that in the U.S., “just one in seven engineers are female, only 27% of all computer science jobs are held by women, and women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000.” A group of women leaders in STEM fields surveyed by CNN presented these possible solutions to address this issue:

1. Recognize that the the toys and games that young girls play with mold their educational and career interests.

2. Introduce girls early to role models of other women in STEM.

3. Engage girls in STEM and keep them interested.

This workshop addresses all three of these solutions, providing students an opportunity to learn about female science and technology role models in an engaging way using LEGO.  This initial event is a trial to see how much interest there is for this type of learning and subject matter… and if having this event sell out in a few hours in any indication, there is definitely a need for more of this type of education.

For more information about the Female Scholars of Science & Technology event, click here or visit http://bit.ly/FemaleScholarsOfScienceWorkshop.  For specific questions about the event, please contact Claire Stafford at (206) 310-0678 or at claire@play-well.org.

LEGO Female Scientist

New LEGO Female Scientist Minifigure by LEGO.

 

 

Can We Measure Learning Through Play?

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This look of wonder and amazement in our students is what we strive for in each of our classes.

A question was posed on the LEGO Foundation Ideas Conference Forum: How can we measure learning through play?

The background of the question was:

“Measurements of learning is currently driven by a discussion of standardized tests in schools, which comes with a risk of teaching to the test, and not focusing on the soft skills with children’s motivation for learning and lifelong outcomes. Who are measurements actually for? And how can we provide new ways of measuring the critical soft skills, like collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, at the same time as making them relevant for the everyday situations in the home, and practices in the classroom?”

We at Play-Well have been asking, answering and re-asking this question for the past 18 years. After teaching over 500,000 kids, we have come to a few truths about play:

  • You can get kids excited about learning through play.
  • Children absorb and remember information when they are fully engaged, especially through play.
  • While it cannot replace scholastic practice in the classroom, play can be used to successfully explain and exemplify complicated academic concepts.

We know that play is powerful. We see it every day in our classes and hear it from parents. One parent relayed a story to us about a kindergartener: after one of our classes, who went to the playground, slid down the slide, and said to himself, “wow, this slide has a lot of friction!”

So, how do we measure this knowledge? That is where it gets tricky. Not only because the goals of each class are unique and difficult to pin down, but also because it forces us to confront an uncomfortable truth: we shouldn’t measure play.

Do we undermine the self-direction of play through measurement?

Play-Well Students

The entire premise of play is that it is self-directed and open-ended. Kids might play to explore the world, solve problems, or express who they are. These are only a few of the reasons children engage in play, and each has its merits in creating a well-rounded child.

Our friends in Montessori education have been strong advocates for self-direction in education: children may choose an activity and work on that activity until they feel they have completed it.  They are done when they believe they have completed it, without the interference of their teacher. They understand that self-direction empowers children and that confidence helps create life-long learners.

Any attempt to measure organic play limits the open-ended nature of it; and in doing so, we may unintentionally saddle children with adult expectations or ideas of what “success” is.

How effective would measurements on play be?

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We could come up with metrics to measure some aspects of play, but we must ask ourselves: would the data we received be worth the potential harm created in collecting it?

Our most satisfying times in the classroom, as instructors, are when our students have epiphany moments. We know that we can create the environment for those opportunities to happen, but it is out of our control as to when they happen.

Let’s revisit the kindergartener experiencing friction on the slide. We had reviewed that term numerous times through playing that week, so at some point it resonated with him. How do you measure that?  When did the connection between our class and the slide occur?  Did he have the epiphany on the slide or somewhere else? Does it matter? Furthermore, in peppering the child with questions attempting to solve the mystery, we ruin the positive association that child had with learning about friction. In the journey from qualitative play to quantitative measurement, the true magic of play will be lost in translation. It will fall short of what is possible if we just allow kids to explore the world for themselves, at their own pace, and trust that learning will happen.

A teacher in the U.S. recently wrote a resignation letter, stating that she needed to step down because she believed her profession no longer existed.  With so much of her job being about standardized tests and constant measurement, her ability to actually be a teacher, allowed to play and experiment to get her kids excited by learning, was gone.  By forcing common standards of teaching in the U.S., the powers that be had stifled this teacher’s ability to do her job in a way that spoke to her children.

In the play setting, who is the better teacher? The adult or the child?

Errol Teaching

So, given all the risk, why would we evaluate play or use play as a measurement tool? We love our children and we recognize play as nourishment for young minds. We want to support that in any way possible and we want that support to be based in peer-reviewed study. This is where we hit the crux of the questions posed: who are measurements actually for?

In simplistic terms, measurements are for adults, and play is for kids.

If you were to ask a child at play, “are you having fun?” She would say, “yes.”  If you asked her to articulate why she is having fun, you’ll probably hear, “I don’t know, it just is.”  She might not fully understand why she does what she does, or what she is learning when she plays, but it is happening. Children submit their bodies, their minds and their spirits to whatever creative world they are traveling through when they play and they do so without judgment or expectation. You can see it in the way their limbs hang when they are being carried to bed after a long day of play: that child gave all of himself to his adventure today. The fullness with which children embrace and indulge in their experiences is something from which we adults can learn. So let us take an opportunity to embrace the process of play without analysis of the results. Can play be a valuable learning tool or method of measurement? Yes. How can we prove it? We shouldn’t bother trying. Or as a child would say, “it just is.”

What will save us? Perhaps Play.

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Ken Robinson, in his lecture about schools killing creativity, explains how the musical Cats almost didn’t happen. The most successful musical of all time only happened because the creator was pulled out of a regular classroom and identified by a teacher as being a dancer, instead of someone who just couldn’t sit still in class. Ken explained that world-changing potential is sitting in our classrooms, but we need to allow kids to play if they are going to understand who they want to be. We as adults must exercise some restraint and allow children to experience that process uninhibited by our desire to understand it. We must treat play as sacred and do all that we can to keep it whole. This is how we can advocate for children and also for ourselves. Because the next great solution, the life-changing invention, the cure for cancer–these things won’t come from a mind that can merely think outside the box; they will come from a mind that thinks the box doesn’t exist.

Contributors To This Article: Erik Olson, Maddy Gabor, & Jeff Harry

LEGO or Mega Bloks: Which One Is Better? April Fool’s!

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After 18 years of working with LEGO and teaching over half a million kids with LEGO, our organization has decided to make the switch to Mega Bloks.  We know that some of our families may not agree with our decision, but based on factors outside of our control, we feel our hand has been forced.

The main reasons for this change:

  • Cost
  • Dynamic Theme Sets
  • Non-Stickability

The cost of LEGO keeps going up, and the only remaining options are to use Mega Bloks or Lincoln Logs. We opted for Mega Bloks.

We had to document our first purchase of Mega Bloks.

Our first store purchase of Mega Bloks.

We also have been very pleased with the new Mega Bloks lineup of non-violent theme sets, such as Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and Call of Duty.  We recently sent out a survey to our families asking: do you find more of an educational component in kids shooting aliens as in Halo, or building Minecraft Biomes?  To our surprise, “shooting aliens” was the answer.

We have found that Mega Bloks have far superior non-stickability, a word recently added to the Webster’s dictionary.  We enjoy the fact that sometimes Mega Bloks simply just fall off each other for no reason, creating an extra challenge for the kids to figure out.  Now, when a student asks “Why did my house fall apart,” we can say, “it’s not our fault.”

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One great thing about ordering Mega Bloks. They are never out of stock.

 

We have amassed over 5 million pieces of LEGO over the years and are open to selling them at a fraction of the price.  If you’d like to purchase our LEGO, simply email us at YouCannotBuyOurLEGOOnAprilFools@play-well.org.

We will miss you, LEGO, and all that you have done for us over the years.  We look forward to our new partnership with Mega Bloks and their gender-neutral Barbie line.

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Boulder Public Library’s Introduce A Child To Engineering Day

On Saturday, February 21st, we teamed up with Boulder Public Library and local residents to build the city of Boulder out of LEGO.

Over 600 people came out to help build Boulder and learn about the world of engineering using LEGO.

The city of Boulder put together a video of the event.

We also were featured on the local Colorado TV Station, Channel 9 News.

Check out the pictures from Introduce A Kid To Engineering Day below.

Colorado Mountaineers Stadium

The Colorado Buffalo Stadium complete with clouds in the background and the LEGO guys running the Buffalo on the field.

 

Gondola area

The gondola room where vehicles traverse up to the mountains of Boulder with the help of the young drivers.

 

Mountains of Boulder

The Rocky Mountains built out of LEGO. Snow and clouds cover the mountain.

 

Volunteers

Our awesome volunteers getting prepped for the event. We had over 30 volunteers come help us out at the Boulder Library.

 

Building 1

Families hard at work on the city of Boulder.

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That building is coming along nicely. Almost ready to add.

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The buildings and houses are beginning to surround the mountain. It is only going to get bigger.

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These kids are excited to see the city of boulder complete.

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We are almost there.

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Here it is. Countless amount of houses, buildings, stadiums, and towers to make up the City of Boulder. Awesome job!

 

 

 

 

Building 7

Here is another angle on all of the creations. Amazing work.

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Before our staff had to take them apart, we took one last photo. Such a fun day. We want to thank the Boulder Public Library for having us and all the people that came out to help make this day awesome. Thanks so much!

 

It was an awesome event that we hope inspired more kids to get into STEM-related fields in the future. For everyone that came out to this event, thanks for coming.  If you’d like to run an event like this with us, visit our Special Events page for more information.