My luck, for the topic I would like to cover in this piece is that I do not have to explain what I want to talk about.
LEGO bricks are now practically an integral part of everyone’s lives. The youngest because they use them, the ones our age, because they used them as kids in the 70s and 80s (and maybe they still play with their kids …), and the “grandparents”, because in each fall at Christmas see the grandchildren’s letters full of indications of strange numerical codes, which represent the different set which they would like to find in the sock.
The story of the bricks began in the 1920s, in the carpentry work of a Danish gentleman, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, who was delighted with the construction of wooden toys. Among other things, he eventually perfected the idea of creating modular bricks that could be firmly attached to each other, and idea after idea came in 1932 with the founding of a company that took the name LEGO, an abbreviation for the words Danes.play well“, it is “plays well“.
The most important feature of LEGO is that it has always been a family business, passed from father to son to the current owner, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, great-grandson of the founder.
The LEGO group, between ups and downs, periods of industrial crisis, lack of plastic materials at certain times, some wrong company choices, has experienced a new spring for some years, mainly thanks to a remarkable advertising penetration (and incredibly much, not done with the presence of advertisements), managed mainly through the stores flagship in many shopping malls, the spread also in large-scale distribution, the flourishing of groups of “adult fans”, initiatives to participate in the creation of new models, the creation of pleasantly exciting animated films based on the characters and models for sale, partnership with major film and editorial productions (Star Wars and Harry Potter, just to name the most striking).
In short, a great word of mouth that lives by itself, with fathers buying boxes with the excuse to give them to their children, but in reality to try their hand at putting on the glasses, in the careful construction of now much sophisticated models, also thanks to the huge amount of “special pieces” And colors available.
“In my time” we had only two colors (red and white), in addition to green for the tiles. 2 × 2, 4 × 2, 8 × 2 bricks, 12 × 2 arches, barred windows with green shutters, white English doors. End. I was lucky enough to have a pair of Dixan drums (strictly covered with mom’s self-adhesive paper) with the bricks and the first wheels, meanwhile enriched with the first “Legoland” sets that reproduced small scenarios (excavator, rally car, firefighters), and that I still own a small portion.
Today, LEGO offers sets to make engineers pale, so much so is the complexity of the construction (in the good way) and the satisfaction of the realization.
The pedagogical function
I’m a little biased, I’m passionate, and I’ve made my kids and my wife passionate. I try to mediate in the right mix of playability (for the little ones and with more “solid” or fun sets, like the Super Mario Bros. series, which is really fun) and constructive challenge (where my older son, now ten years old) years old) follows me with great passion. I like the method, the need to observe and follow the instructions, the discovery of really surprising common solutions and mechanisms, the designers’ genius in reproducing real objects that work.
We have so many sets, some are exhibited in the living room, on the table there is usually at least one tray with something under construction, and many many boxes with the envelopes for the different sets, which we regularly bring to life again until kl. rebellion of those who have to dust up or clean up the house.
As a family, we live the LEGO experience as a moment of amalgamation, together around the table, father puts on his glasses and the little fingers of the children in charge of the smallest joints.
But both the company itself and some ingenious “customers” have perceived further educational development for the bricks.
For some time, LEGO has had a program dedicated to management in its catalog, a “role-playing game” that uses bricks and is dedicated to Team building and business cooperation in companies.
In fact, the “Serious Play” project started as “an experiential process designed for use in guided workshops with adults to stimulate dialogue and encourage reflection, as well as to develop problem-solving skills and the use of imagination. However, SERIOUS PLAY® kits such as the Starter set are also suitable for developing critical thinking skills in children aged 6 and over. Each set is designed to encourage different skills, such as reflection and dialogue, to enhance the workshop experience. This innovative approach to interaction is a valuable resource in business and in education that helps participants open up through the readily available means of play..
A new idea
There are never limits to the imagination. Riccardo Bonomichemistry teacher at the Comprehensive Institute of Siziano (PV) started from a simple observation: “Lego bricks combine and recombine, always becoming different things. Is not that what happens in chemistry with atoms and molecules?“
Therefore, the creation of a method and a system for the “amplified” representation of the periodic table of the elements, where the classical numerical and positional classification is accompanied by the “fixed” representation by means of bricks.
Each element is represented by a block of different size, corresponding to its atomic number (ah, we had been paying attention to the chemistry lessons in high school !!) which is graphically integrated into Mendeleev’s table and the basic element for the construction of molecules consists of a bottom plate 2 × 4, which represents the “octet” that is fundamental to the stability of each chemical compound.
Thus, with simplicity and intuition, we compose the various elements and build stable chemical reactions, simply by observing the “free” positions in the base plates and completing the bonds to fill all the “free spaces”.
The method, obviously supported by a theoretical basis that can not ignore the traditional study of the basic principles of chemistry, favors learning and agility in understanding the subject, offsets the educational path of students, whether they are sluggish, gifted or simply “not brought” to STEM subjects.
Bonomi’s method, which he has already used for some years, led him to a prestigious recognition a few weeks ago, where he was awarded “Atlante – Italian Teacher Award“, sponsored among others by the Republic, the Lazio region and the Varsey Foundation, which organizes the Global Teacher Prize worldwide, a kind of” Nobel Prize for Teachers “.
Once again, congratulations to Riccardo Bonomi, who I proudly know personally, especially for his musical performance with the Nat Soul Band.
It’s a matter of chemistry.
(LEGO® is a registered trademark and copyright of the LEGO Group. © 2022 The LEGO Group)