Building fun and futures at WCU

Saturday morning WCU campus was not a quiet place. Killian was full with children who were playing with Legos.

“The favorite thing is to actually see the learning event in a child’s mind. To see that they can learn, and they can do something interesting and something they are highly motivated in,” said Dr. Bob Houghton, one of several volunteers from WCU and the surrounding community to take part in a LEGO workshop on November 2.

The workshop, which brought more than 50 elementary and middle school children from across Western North Carolina to WCU was divided into 4 workshops. Each with various activities for kids to partake in including building miniature “robots,” spelling names with LEGOs, building bridges and buildings, LEGO cars and more.
Everywhere you went there were joyous shouts of “Come see!” as kids showed off their creators to instructors, parents, and friends.

Apart from the LEGO projects, students were also given opportunities to learn about and build QR Codes from Dr. Sloan Despeaux and how to build circuits out of aluminum foil, tape and batteries.

While kids certainly enjoyed playing, parent and one of the organizers Larissa Miller enjoys the benefits the events like this provide kids.

“My oldest sons level of comprehension and comfort working with the robotic systems is much higher than mine is, and that can’t be bad,” Miller said.

Dr.  Houghton, has been at WCU for 20 years, and currently teaches Digital Literacy at WCU taught two sessions on Saturday with the LEGO Mindstorm units.  During his sessions, students were given a chance to program and play with robots made entirely from LEGO pieces and a small onboard “brain” unit-basically a 32-bit computer. Students were grouped into teams and given two Mindstorm robots and a laptop. They were also given “missions” like having their robot push a barrel across a table, then return to them. After some hands on training with Dr. Houghton, the kids set to work, and before long,  shouts of “WE GOT IT!” filled the room.

For more information about the WNC LEGO workshop including future events, check out the events Facebook page

Check out a slideshow of the event below: