By John Keuler
Lego blocks are used for constructing structures that form first in a child’s imagination, but Lego blocks are not known to build things themselves. For several children attending Play-Well TEKnologies’ Engineering FUNdamentals Camp from July 15-19 at the Kiwanis Center and Activities House, Lego blocks were more than just toys, as they were used to teach basic engineering concepts.
Play-Well TEKnologies, based out of California, seeks to build problem-solving skills while also encouraging the qualities of inquisitiveness, self-reliance, and self-confidence in children, according to their mission statement.
In their 16th year of existence, Play-Well has made its way across the country. Local camp instructor Chris Wilkerson spoke about the growth saying, “This is our first year in Atlanta and we have had over 20 camps this summer. It is our goal to be across the entire state.” A common pastime among children, Legos are tremendous fun and through the Engineering FUNdamentals Camp, kids learn much more than just how to build a Lego gondola lift.
The camp taught the children how to use concepts like belt-and-pulley systems, gears, torque, and leverage through projects like building catapults and merry-go-rounds. Although those lessons are important and may inspire some of the children to become engineers or architects, Wilkerson hopes they take much more away from his camp.
“I hope they are able to learn, create, and be themselves in the class. We want them to be themselves in the real world. We are trying to teach them everything they need in the real world to just be great people,” said Wilkerson.
Although there was plenty of learning taking place in the class, there was no shortage of fun as the camp concluded with the destruction of a nearly 10-foot Lego tower with a well-placed karate kick by Wilkerson.
As each child left, they all said goodbye to Wilkerson with a high five or hug and promised to return next summer. Next summer they hope to learn even more about engineering while building new projects, and also practice being themselves. As Wilkerson said, he wants to help them piece together the parts to help them to eventually become exemplary adults, but not without enjoying every block they snap into place.