by Michelle Crooker
At Snapology, you get the best of both worlds—fun and education.
Snapology was started by two mothers who also happen to be sisters. Laura and Lisa Coe decided to combine their knowledge and love of science, math, sales, and technology to create centers that offer enriching classes and camps to kids. How do they do this? With Lego® blocks, of course! How cool is that?
The other day, my kids and I went on a field trip to a local Snapology. Our Snapology is located in Reading, Pennsylvania. If you are up this way you can check it out—Snapology of Reading. If, however, you do not live in Pennsylvania, that’s okay, too. Did you know that in addition to their headquarters, Snapology has 12 other locations along the East Coast?
Here are a few others that are relatively close to Virginia:
- Ashburn, Virginia
- Baltimore-Washington – This is the newest Snapology location as of this writing, having opened on September 28, 2013.
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Savannah, Georgia
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Now that you have all of the information, check out the fun stuff that we did while we were there. When I say “we,” I mean the kids participated—because it really was on their level—but I had a lot of fun, too. I had all three kids with me that day: SixHands (age 13), Princess (age 8) and Bug (age 5). Even Bug could participate, as it is geared for kids as young as six.
Our Mission: Basic Robotics
Using the Lego® Education WeDo Software v1.2 and Activity Pack, the kids focused on the theme “wild animals,” and using the software, they built and programmed a working robotics model.
The kids were divided up into teams of their choosing, with two or three kids on a team. Bug and Princess were together, along with an older daughter of a friend. SixHands paired up with another young man that was there. The instructor explained what they were going to do, gave them the passwords for the computers, and then let them get started.
Parents were invited to stay and watch or to take a look around the rest of the facility. As everything at Snapology of Reading is all on one floor, the parents felt comfortable walking around to see what else Snapology has to offer.
The other parents and I watched for a few minutes and then decided to check out some of the other things to do at Snapology of Reading. Our findings are pictured below. (Note: Probably quite a few of the other Snapology centers have similar things, although the centers are all independently owned, so some things will differ).
Stop Motion Animation:
During the stop motion animation classes, the kids aren’t merely playing with Lego® bricks and taking pictures. The kids are taught how to come up with an idea for a story, how to write it out, and then how to story-board their ideas. All of this takes place before they start working with the computer software, webcam, and Lego® pieces.
One room had magnetic color cubes. When you flip over the top, you have a place to copy their layouts or to make your own designs.
Ok, I admit it. I played with the magnetic color cubes. Try it some time. It’s fun!
Another room was setup for the younger kids to play with the larger Lego® blocks and other toys.
In the blue room, older kids and their younger siblings can play together. The older ones have tables with Lego blocks, while the younger ones get the larger Lego® blocks and the floor to build on.
The Blue Room, so named because the walls were painted. . . Yup, you guessed it . . . blue!
After our tour, I went back to check on the kids and their progress. The model was built, the program was running, and the ducks were spinning. I know what you are thinking . . . what ducks? The robotic model that the kids were working on was a base, a motor, and two ducks. Depending on how you write the program, you can have either duck spin on its own, you can have both ducks spin in the same direction, or you can have both ducks spin in opposite directions.
The Duckies (aka The Robot)
The Program (aka the stuff on the computer that makes the ducks spin)
After cleaning up, the kids had a bit more time to play. In the big room, there is a giant Lego® table with tons of Lego® bricks for free building. Bug and Princess quite enjoyed spending time here, while SixHands walked around to the other rooms and built a creation from magnetic tiles so that his mother could take a picture.
The Building Room
Lego Playground by Bug and Princess
Have you ever been to Snapology? If so, share your experiences with me. What ways do you use Lego® products in your homeschool?
Michelle, a Virginia native, currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. Active in Scouts, area homeschool groups, and with her family, she can be found on her blog, “Homeschooler on the Edge,” as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.