What do you get when you mix imagination, open-source collaboration, and millions of interlocking plastic bricks? It's the world of Lego - encouraging an entire future generation of engineers.
An article in the May issue of Smithsonian shows the evolution of the toy brand from free-form building blocks to the medium behind student robotics competitions around the world. By learning about design thinking through playing with Legos, "(Kids) see that there is no right or wrong answer, just an infinite number of ways to address a problem," said Chris Rogers, a professor of mechanial engineering at Tufts University. "Learning that is as critical to engineering as it is to life."
Accompanying the article was a fascinating infographic on the possibilities offered by a STEM-focused education, including the tremendous salary advantages that a science and engineering-related career holds vs. the average for all other career fields.
The educational organization FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology - sponsors Lego leagues and helps kids learn about the collaboration and teamwork that go into design and production. If you know of an interested student, check their website for information about leagues and events.
So parents, next time you experience the agony of stepping barefoot onto a Lego brick, just remember that those little plastic blocks could be key to an innovative future - and maybe even a great STEM career!