WAXAHACHIE

Wilemon STEAM Academy students challenge their creativity and core subject skills daily on the new LEGO wall, which is the first of its kind in Waxahachie ISD.

The blue wall was installed in October as a gift from the Waxahachie ISD Education Foundation. Wilemon STEAM Academy principal, Kate Authier, expressed the students and teachers are thrilled to work with the innovative tool.

Students use the LEGO wall "as an extension of, and to demonstrate their knowledge," Authier explained. For example, Everett Johnson’s fifth-grade students studied the Founding Fathers in social studies.

"The student used the LEGO wall to create a symbol that represented their Founding Father," Authier explained. "Some LEGO creations included a two dollar bill with Thomas Jefferson, an ax and apple tree with a picture of George Washington, a kite representing Benjamin Franklin, and an envelope with a stamp representing Patrick Henry."

The LEGO wall has also been utilized for math, as students use blocks to build array and area models for multiplication problems.

Students from Halee Tucker’s fourth-grade class gathered around the floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall to showcase their masterpieces. The small plastic blocks might look like abstract art, but when further explained, they are used to simplify multiplication equations.

"There are six columns and six rows, and in total there are 36 LEGOs here," explained Noah Fornal, as he displayed the array he built on the LEGO wall.

Fornal admitted math is his strong suit, but the creative outlet is helpful and fun.

Another classmate, Adalai Domaruk, expressed the LEGO experience is entirely different because she constructs projects on a vertical wall instead of flat on the floor.

“You can make a picture or a whole mural of LEGOs on a wall,” Domaruk explained.

"You can play with it or do math with it, but you can just basically be creative with a bunch of things," Adalai added. She also agreed the wall helped her visualize math.

Fourth-grader Austin Ivie explained the two models used to simplify math problems. He said an array helps the students solve single digit multiplication problems while the area model solves two-digit by two-digit multiplication problems. The LEGO wall also serves as inspiration.

“We can be creative and make new things,” Ivie said.

The students shared that, in the classroom, the drawn-out array and area models are used to solve the math problems instead of writing out long-form mathematical equations.

Jordan Brooks admitted she prefers to play with the LEGOs when at home rather than practice math, but having the toys to make school more interesting is a bonus.

“I like LEGOs that I can make stuff at home. One time I made a train without the book," Brooks elaborated.

So far, the opportunities presented by the LEGO wall have been endless.

"Wilemon students and staff are very grateful for this gift from the Education Foundation for Waxahachie ISD," Authier thanked. "We know that the addition of our LEGO Wall will enhance student learning and engagement for years to come."

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450