In all the hours you spent engrossed in a box of LEGO, you probably never realised you were learning as you played.
The iconic building bricks are now widely recognised for teaching children how to think in three dimensions while honing creativity, problem-solving skills and understanding the importance of teamwork.
Now the toy invented in 1958 is serious business; it’s helping city businesses and the next generation of engineering, science and technology students to build themselves brighter futures.
Sheffield College opened its own LEGO innovation studio in March and uses Lego Education resources to develop practical and problem-solving skills among its advanced engineering, science and technology students, helping to produce the scientists, engineers and computer programmers of tomorrow.
A collective of local business people from Minds Of Many, a monthly entrepreneurial development group run by city specialist Andy Hanselman Consulting, got hands-on with LEGO at their last meeting.
“The LEGO studio was the latest in a list of brilliant Sheffield facilities we decided to showcase to our group,” said Minds Of Many co-leader Jill White. “We found it a fantastic way of engaging and developing people and getting them to work as a team by pooling different strengths and skills. Everyone was very grateful to Sheffield College for allowing us to trial their teaching resource.”
Kay Couldwell, business development manager for Good Travel Management, preferred travel supplier of the Sheffield Chamber, teamed up with Dodworth-based Med-El ops manager Alison Woodcock to build a laptop-operated robot crocodile.
“I was convinced I couldn’t do the task; I’m not technical at all, but we each did the bits that we felt most comfortable with, and felt really proud when we succeeded,” said Kay. “Interestingly, all around us we could hear the men racing to finish their tasks. They wanted to be the first, while we were only concerned about making a model that worked correctly.”
James Wilson, director of family-run Sheffield beds firm We Love Sleep, admitted the session had re-ignited a childhood passion for LEGO: “ I spent hours as a kid making cars and houses with it but the innovation studio made me realise what a great educational tool it is for all ages. We learned about looking at problems and solving them through collaboration and free-thinking. LEGO for adults is the future.”
Ian Brown, partner at law firm Wosskow Brown, admitted to initially doubting he was up to the task. He said: “I can barely change a lightbulb, but I succeeded and it felt brilliant. You assume you can’t think like a child anymore; that you’re so programmed to do things a certain way, or restricted by your own failings, but the LEGO proved we could.”