John D. Sutter Elementary School’s multipurpose room was packed with parents and children admiring the imaginative Lego creations of sixty-two students at its 2nd Annual Lego Show January 21.
“We want our kids to be creative and work on engineering projects without really knowing it,” says Sutter principal Michael Fong, pleased that the number of students participating had increased from 2014 and included more girls.
The kindergarten through 5th grade students designed and created their engineering projects at home in the categories of architecture, vehicle, mosaic, mini-figure scene, and open category. Though the event was not a contest, a People’s Choice Award and Lego trophy for over-all best project was awarded by popular vote to 1st grader Lukas for his complex creation “Fairytale Land.”
Legos—small, interlocking plastic bricks—were introduced to the U.S. in 1961 from Denmark. Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, who began making wooden toys in his carpentry shop in 1932, is credited with starting the business that would evolve into a global enterprise that engages children, and their parents as well, in miniature building projects.
Some Sutter student projects were inspired by memories of family travels. First grader Alyssa recalled a family snow trip to Placerville last February. Using Legos her mom had played with as a youngster, Alyssa created “Christmas Snow Tree” (the only mosaic entry in two years).
Third grader John drew on memories of a summer trip to Canada, where his dad is from, to recreate “Old Fort Erie.”
“It was hard. I worked on it a little bit every day for two weeks,” says John, pointing out the working drawbridge and spotlight. “It was fun.”
“Hawaiian Paradise”—with a sandy beach made of brown and white rice and sugar—was the team effort of 3rd graders Kelly and Tomie and kindergartener Isaac. Siblings Tomie and Isaac have happy memories of visiting their grandparents in Hawaii.
“Killarney Pool” by 2nd grader Jayden and “Levi’s Stadium” by 1st grader Gordon were recreations of actual Santa Clara landmarks.
“It’s all incredible. I like the Levi’s stadium,” says 5th grader Kristina, accompanied by her father.
Other projects reflected the real and fantasy interests of the children: “Horse Hotel” by 3rd grader Kylie, “Monster Truck Showdown” by 2nd grader Brian, “Mine World” by 4th grader Jessica, and “Sutter Wars” by 4th grader Miguel, for example.
“It was really hard. I did it after homework. I felt I made lots of progress,” says Miguel. “You do this just to have fun. Just because you get the [winner’s] cup, it doesn’t mean you’re the best.”
The Sutter PTA organized the Lego show, led by parents Brandon Chun, Ginger Willson, and Heather Wilper.
“All of these projects are so special, but some of them just blew me away,” says Willson.
“I used to make buildings, roads, cars, and airplanes. What I most remember is being able to create, using my imagination…,” writes Principal Fong in an email. “Legos taught me many things without me knowing it.”
Fong listed the skills Legos help children with: hand-eye coordination, mathematics, geometry and engineering, fine motor skills, duplicate complex patterns, how to plan and evaluate problems and follow directions with logic and reasoning, three dimensional thinking, problem solving, planning by construction, organization, comprehension skills, and creativity.
“Those are just a few things Legos taught me, and it was fun,” Fong concludes.