Playing Well at EMP Museum’s Brick Party

We were lucky enough to be a part of the EMP Museum’s Opening Night Brick Party in Seattle. It was part of the Block by Block: Inventing Amazing Architecture Exhibit by LEGO Professional Builder, Dan Parker. Some of the most noteworthy buildings in the world were on display, built in LEGO. Here is a glimpse of the EMP event from our perspective.

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2 Story Movie Screen for kids to play LEGO Video games on and watch stop-motion LEGO animation.

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Scale model of the largest building in the world: The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Over 21,000 LEGO Pieces were needed to complete this building.

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Alice Finch, who build the famous LEGO Hogwarts (http://www.flickr.com/photos/88574960@N02/sets/72157632858317817/), built this amazing temple that she had visited as a teacher.

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Here are some of the other noteworthy buildings that we were being displayed. The Freedom Tower is in the back.

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Kids all of all ages playing with LEGO at our Monorail Battletrack area.

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Our conveyor belt raffle system is ready for all the EMP Museum attendees.

If you’d like us to provide an entertaining LEGO area for your upcoming event, feel free to contact us at jeff@play-well.org or visit us at play-well.org.  Cheers!

LEGO Lessons In The Work Place

Our amazing Seattle Manager, Molly Lebowitz, recently wrote a blog post for Urban Campfire, providing LEGO Lessons Learned In The Work Place.  We have reposted the blog below.

Source: Urban Campfire

In my line of work I get to work with engineers who frame skyscrapers, build solar powered cars, plan entire cities, and even design vehicles fit for space travel. As I observe groups work on these technical projects, I see their very human natures – some are clear leaders, others hold back and prefer to work by themselves, some take criticism gracefully and some, well, not so much. And then their parents pick them up and they go home for lunch. Oh – did I forget to tell you this is LEGO engineering?

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We guide these young builders, not just the fundamentals of physics and engineering, but also in how to gracefully face the real challenges of the world. They slowly learn to grit their teeth when their gondola falls off the wire, and start to rebuild – or to help their classmate pick up the pieces. They learn to manage their time so that they can put the finishing touches on their spacecraft in time for the class intergalactic parade. In fact, we teach all kinds of life skills at LEGO class, but the best part is, that it just feels like play – not school at all.

There might just be some LEGO lessons that we can apply to the workplace, too. In my former job as an engineer for an environmental consulting firm, I wish I had the following tips from LEGO class:

1. Put FUN First. If you’re not having fun while creating a model of your dream house, you’re not doing it right – you need to redirect your goals for the day. As adults this can be hard, but we really need to find ways to enjoy some part of what we’re doing each day. Always putting off fun until the evening, or the weekend, will eventually make us miserable people.

2. Keep it SIMPLE. Get the tank working, before you start to make it armored, six-wheel drive, articulated with a scissor lift. Lots of times, being overwhelmed is simply a symptom of trying to tackle too much at once. How can we start small, and really master a portion of the job before moving on?

3. DELEGATE. It takes trust, time, and effort – but it’s worth it. A team goes up in flames when one kid takes on the entire fleet of vehicles and asks others to do the “landscaping”. The tree-planting members become disengaged and the boss is overwhelmed and burns out. Take the time up front to allocate tasks and come up with a plan so that all members feel included and responsible for the team success. Allow some autonomy so that people are working on portions of the job they feel passionate about.

4. FAILURE is not a loss. This is the hardest one for kids and adults alike. You just spent 90-minutes tweaking the gear train on your motorcycle, and in the end, it won’t even stand upright. Epic LEGO fail. What’s the value in that? Well, you had some false assumptions on balance and now you can better gauge what will work and what won’t. It doesn’t mean you won’t fail again, but it does mean you’ll have a better chance at success.

5. Get IN THE ZONE! Psychologists have defined a special mental state in which a person feels fully immersed in a task at hand, so much so that he or she loses track of time. The condition, called “flow”, requires complete absorption and focus on a specific goal or challenge. When all 30 LEGO students are totally engaged in the project, you can feel the positive flow in the room. Flow is good for your brain while being intrinsically rewarding and energizing! Set yourself up to experience flow at work by seeking out moderately challenging tasks with a defined goal and rapid feedback. Achieving flow in the workplace has even been found to contribute to organizational goals including higher productivity, innovation, and employee development.

6. LOSING is learning. Okay, you probably don’t do as many demolition derbies at work as we do in LEGO class, but this goes for anything. If you fall short to someone else or someone else’s organization – figure out why! They know about something that you don’t know, and as soon as you find out, you can implement it for yourself, and then rise to be a formidable opponent once again.
In other words: “All I ever need to know in life, I learned in LEGO class”. But don’t worry. If you missed out on LEGO class as a kid, there’s still hope for you (adults can build too).

MollyL

Post by Molly Lebowitz, Seattle Area Manager for Play-Well TEKnologies.

Molly has worked in consulting as an environmental engineer in industrial regulatory compliance and remediation. Currently, Molly is managing and teaching engineering classes for kids in the Seattle area with Play-Well TEKnologies, with a goal to get more young students excited about art, architecture and engineering. Molly gets to play with LEGOs every single day at work!
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Hear Molly speak at Urban Campfire: Girls Edition in DuPont, Washington!!

The Wonderful World of LEGO® presented by Napa Valley Museum

Wonderful World of LEGO

In early December, we were part of Napa Valley Museum’s Wonderful World of LEGO®. Models, MOCs and LEGO® artwork of all kinds will be on display, highlighting the wealth of creativity that starts with a single brick and a lot of imagination. Kids could try their hands at creating in the Building Zone and and participate in our Play-Well TEKnologies Engineering with LEGO Workshops.  Here are a few of the architectural creations that we contributed to the exhibit.

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If you’d like us to be a part of your museum exhibit, feel free to contact Jeff Harry at jeff@play-well.org.  You can get more information about Play-Well TEKnologies at www.play-well.org.

An Instructor’s Perspective On Working For Play-Well

A few of our Play-Well staff teaching and students celebrating their accomplishments.

A few of our Play-Well staff teaching and students celebrating their accomplishments.

One of our instructors, who needed to step away from her role as a LEGO Engineering Instructor with Play-Well TEKnologies wrote us a letter, as she was leaving explaining her time with Play-Well.  It encompasses what many of us feel when we are teaching our Engineering with LEGO classes and the impact we have on students in our classes.

“As my time with Play-Well TEKnologies has come to an end, I have taken a moment to reflect upon my experiences with this amazing company.  I wanted to extend a line of communication to express my gratitude for being given such an incredible opportunity.  I’ve learned how to become a better teacher, better engineer, and more importantly, I’ve remembered what it’s like to be a kid again.  As an engineer by trade, I was becoming bored and worried that I wasn’t going to grow further within my field.  Within Play-Well, I was given a unique chance to see engineering through a child’s eyes again and it helped me shatter the glass box that we, as socialized humans, put ourselves in as we are told that “no, that isn’t possible” and “no, that doesn’t work” over and over again throughout our lives.   It feels good to believe in the possibility of our ideas creating the rules and not the other way around.

I would like to leave you with this last story. A student, Levy, I had multiple times over the school year and once over the summer took the time to write me a letter for my last day of work.  In his own endearing seven-year old words, he thanked me.  He thanked me for making his passion of science “socially acceptable” and “cool”.  He said he had made more friends in school this past year by sharing what he learned in class with other kids because it wasn’t just science or math or engineering anymore.  It was Lego; a universal understanding between people of all ages.  So, I would like to pass along his thanks to you.  Without Play-Well, Levy and the students like Levy wouldn’t have the outlet they need to express and understand themselves. 

If I have to leave this company, as I do to help provide for my family, that was most likely the best way I could have ended it.  Working for Play-Well is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I couldn’t thank you enough.   I wish you all the best.

Cheers,

Tina B.

If you’d like more information about working for Play-Well TEKnologies, visit our Play-Well Jobs Page.

Thankful Kids LEGO Project!

One of our Play-Well students, Curtis, did something really amazing and generous for his mom.  She needed a teaspoon holder, so he built one out of LEGO.  His act of kindness and creativity inspired us to create the Thankful Kids LEGO Project.     

Teaspoon Holder

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Every holiday season, parents work really hard to make the holidays extra special for their kids.  One of our students reminded us that kids can make any day special for their parents too.  So, we have created a project where kids can show how thankful they are through their ingenuity, creativity, and a little bit of LEGO.  It inspired other kids to want to participate.

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“I just wanted to share with you my amazing godson Steven Taylor invention for our electronic toothbrushes. Recently we bought electronic toothbrushes but haven’t been able to leave it in the bathroom because there really isn’t a holder for them…He thought it would be helpful for him to build us a holder out of Legos small enough to fit around the sink and also look cool…well without any hesitation he came up with an amazing toothbrush holder in under ten minutes and put little cute details around it like a robot and a flame behind the toothbrush…Amazing..we are so very proud of him and very thankful for his thoughtfulness.

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A child built a LEGO Vacuum Cleaner for his mom for the Thankful Kids LEGO Project.

Here is how kids can do this:

    1. Thank your parents for everything they do.  This can be done throughout the holidays.
    2. Ask your parents how you can help, perhaps by building something they need out of LEGO.
    3. Build the project out of LEGO.
    4. Post it on our Play-Well Facebook Pagetweet it to us, or email it to jeff@play-well.org.

We will share all of the projects that kids make throughout all of November and December in an album and a video that we will share around the country.

Happy Holidays!