HomeMoorestown NewsLEGO Night 2020 promises a jungle adventure

LEGO Night 2020 promises a jungle adventure

Annual STEM event brings high schoolers, younger students together

It’s a jungle out there, but Moorestown High School’s robotics team is ready to help the next generation of creative-thinkers and future engineers find their way.

On the evening of March 11, MHS’s Combustible Lemons will bring their fifth-annual LEGO Night to Moorestown Upper Elementary School. Senior Emily Tsai can’t wait to help K-6 students discover the world of STEM — that’s science, technology, engineering and math — by building their own jungle-themed original designs with the familiar plastic bricks.

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“Students at a young age don’t usually have much exposure to STEM, so the idea behind LEGO Night was to bring STEM to them,” said Tsai, who’s been involved in the program all four years of high school. “LEGO Night is a fun way to encourage creativity and critical thinking while showing them how to get their creative juices flowing and providing them with an opportunity to learn about STEM.”

Participants from kindergarten to second grade will be building non-competitively and showcasing their feats of LEGO engineering with a parade. Students in grades 3-6 will participate in a judged competition in the hopes of winning prizes and trophies for constructing stand-out creations.

Each year of LEGO Night has been marked by an overall theme that Tsai said “will appeal to all students regardless of gender or age while letting their creativity flow.” But, to ensure that the younger students are thinking on their feet, each group also builds under a specific sub-theme related the overall theme, which isn’t revealed to them until the night before the hands-on event, where they’ll have just 30 minutes to bring their visions to life.

The result, according to Tsai, yields a variety of wildly differing takes on the overarching theme.

“Themes are tailored so students can be creative with what they build,” she explained. “Last year, with ‘shipwrecked’ as the theme, we saw all kinds of pirate ships — spaceships, airplanes, classic pirate ships — and how students handled the theme of getting off an island.”

The event is open to K-6 students from all school districts. Students don’t even need to supply their own LEGOs, though the event’s organizers advise doing so for more options.

“We ask all participants to bring a bin of LEGOs, but we can supply them,” Tsai said. “But what they do need is to come ready to build and be creative. There are always traditional ways to solve a problem but we’re encouraging them to think as far outside the box as they can.”

In addition to getting a hands-on STEM education in a fun environment, students and their parents can also speak with not only the Combustible Lemons but also other area robotics teams to learn more about local For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) opportunities— as well as “meet” the robots each team has brought to the evening event.

But the best part, according to Tsai, is the palpable enthusiasm that the younger students bring to LEGO Night.

“My favorite part is toward the end of the building session, when I get to talk to the students about what they made and just seeing how happy they are,” she said. “Their parents usually tell us that they’ve never seen their children so focused and involved and into what they’re building.”

As a young woman making her own way in the STEM world, Tsai is especially heartened by how many younger girls participate in the yearly event.

“It’s really great talking to young girls about what they want to do when they’re older: They’re so ambitious, and I think it’s amazing that they have the opportunity to reach their goals regardless of what those goals are and what their gender is,” she said.

LEGO Night will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Upper Elementary School. Tickets are $10 for K-6 participants (parents and non-builders can attend for free) and include a slice of pizza. A concession stand will offer cash-only snacks and dinner options. Contact the Combustible Lemons at frc513@gmail.com for more information, and visit tinyurl.com/LegoNight2020 to purchase tickets.



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