Fond du Lac County 4-H LEGO Club Builds More Than Bricks

This fall, Fond du Lac County 4-H added a new youth club to the mix: LEGO Club! LEGO club was born when 4-H Program Educator Tracy Keifenheim discovered that a few counties around the state had begun their own programs. Keifenheim approached FDL Co 4-H youth leader Noah H, and Noah jumped at the opportunity to help form the club. Over the summer months, Noah and Keifenheim worked out specifics surrounding club meetings, topics, meeting locations and duration, etc. As the plans developed Noah approached another youth leader, Makayla S, to help with the club.

Makayla and Noah were excited at the opportunity to further develop their leadership skills and were interviewed on the subject a few months post club establishment. When asked what the most challenging aspect of being a LEGO club youth leader, Makayla shared her challenges. “The most challenging part is explaining ideas or topics. Sometimes the kids don’t understand it fully, so we have to explain it better with examples. Also, keeping the kids focused, as well as, keeping them engaged can be difficult because they get bored fast. So when teaching a topic, we need to keep it short and to the point, so they can try it themselves.” Noah shared a similar challenging experience: “By far the most challenging part is making sure the kids understand what I’m saying and keeping them involved. Older kids have a longer attention span and can understand more complex things compared to younger kids. I really have to try to get the entire age range included.”

They also shared their favorite aspect of being a youth leader. “My favorite part is just sharing all you can do with LEGO. It’s not just stacking bricks anymore, but now has become a very complex and fun thing that has many aspects to it,” said Noah. Makayla stated, “I love being able to work with the kids and help them learn new techniques on how to build LEGOs. I also enjoy teaching them new ways to build LEGOs, along with the many different ways you can use one LEGO piece. I love watching them grow as a LEGO builder and watching them become better at building Legos using the techniques we taught them.” When asked if they would recommend to others to become a youth leader, both said they would. For Makayla, the answer was “definitely yes.” “Definitely yes, because it is a rewarding opportunity getting to work with other people and watch them grow. Find something you are passionate about and create a club. You will meet new people and get to do something you love or are passionate about.” Noah agreed. “Yes, as it provides many opportunities. It is definitely a challenge as you aren’t in your comfort zone, but being able to teach people what you enjoy and challenging yourself provides the best opportunity to help you in the long term with college, jobs, and any role in the future.”

September was the club’s first meeting. Each meeting has a similar layout where youth are encouraged to build if they arrive early, and meetings kickoff with introductions and sharing building challenges. The club’s structure revolves around a monthly build category (car, boat, plane, etc.) with youth encouraged to complete their individual build and present their creation to the group. They can share as little or as much information surrounding their build as they like. Topics typically include how the build was created and feature highlights of the build. After sharing is finished, Noah and Makayla lead a learning activity. These activities include demonstrations, skill building, assisted practice, and Q&A sessions. Some topics covered during this portion of the meeting have been: alternate builds, use of Stud.io, building techniques, and there are more to come. After the application of the skills being taught has been completed, the youth vote on the next month’s challenge which is to be completed at home. Once a winner is picked, the youth have a month to submit a picture of their challenge build, so it can be shared at the following meeting. The club is growing and currently has 28 members.

LEGO Club isn’t just teaching youth LEGO skills and playing with LEGO building bricks. Youth are learning Life Skills during this LEGO club experience. Youth learn problem-solving and critical thinking skills during the build, communication skills when presenting their build, self-motivation when continuing to apply the learned skills beyond the meeting, and so much more. If you would like more information about the Fond du Lac County 4-H LEGO Club, please contact Tracy Keifenheim at 920-929-3171 or email tracy.keifenheim@wisc.edu.

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