NASA was to launch a special LEGO space shuttle headed to orbit last week, to mark the signing of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and The LEGO group.This launch is meant to spark children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The small LEGO shuttle was to launch on Wednesday, November 3rd, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the crew of the Space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission. This launch has since been re-scheduled for no later than November 30th.
This partnership seems a natural fit. Children love to explore LEGO’s and build their own creations and spacecraft. If NASA is willing to partner with LEGO for 3 years (the “Building and Exploring our Future” theme), then children will benefit in every possible way. Next year, in fact, the LEGO group will release four NASA-inspired products in their LEGO CITY line. The space-themed products will vary in term of complexity, engaging the youngest children to adult LEGO fans. Each product release will also contain NASA- inspired educational materials.
How wonderful it would be to work that into a curriculum, be it in a preschool or in the grade school classrooms!
“As part of the Space Act Agreement, NASA will send special LEGO sets to the International Space Station aboard shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission in February, 2011. The sets will be assembled by astronauts on-orbit and by children and student groups across the country. The construction process and activities with the sets will demonstrate the challenges faced when building thing sin the microgravity environment of space,” shared Leland Melvin, NASA’s associate administrator for Education.
It would be exciting to have children in classrooms work on the same sets at the same time as the astronauts, to really experience the challenges faced by astronauts in their every day life in space. Teachers could use their imagination as well, to simulate space conditions- space themes could be taught in classrooms in all subjects, children could write about their experiences and children could write to astronauts! It could be incorporated into math, science, art, technology (computer programs suitable for various ages), Language Arts, social studies. The history of space exploration could be researched, and new discoveries could be shared. Best yet, this could be done with all ages of children, in age appropriate ways!
To view the pre-launch activities, please click on this link
As Steve Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education North America, put it, “The LEGO Groups’s purpose is to inspire children to think creatively, reason systematically, and release their potential to shape their own future. The partnership with NASA provides us a unique opportunity to fulfill our purpose while expanding the imaginations of children around the world. A child who plays with LEGO bricks today, can become the NASA astronaut or engineer of tomorrow.”