Bullard Elementary Students Build LEGO Bridges, STEM Skills

Bullard Elementary School students watch as a representative from Builder Bunch tests the bridge that the students built out of LEGOs. Kindergarten teacher Bonnie McKinney won the in school field trip event for her school when she attended Stemapalooza last summer.

One hundred, 200, 300, 400, 500 grams! That’s how much weight second graders Jacob and Wyatt’s LEGO bridge was able to hold.

The Bullard Elementary School students built bridges with LEGO’s as part of a learning activity sponsored by Builder Bunch.

Bullard kindergarten teacher Bonnie McKinney won the in-school field trip for her school during the Cobb County School District’s summer Stemapalooza. She built the winning cellphone holder out of LEGOs.

Bullard Elementary School kindergarten teacher Bonnie McKinney watches as her students build a bridge out of LEGOs as part of an in school field trip that she won for the school over the summer.

The bridge-building activity, which McKinney estimates as having a value of about $4,000, focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“The benefits are amazing for the kids,” explained McKinney. “First off, it is so engaging. They love the activity. The collaboration is wonderful. It is a great way for [the students] to problem solve.”

Before the students dug into the boxes of LEGOs and started construction, Builder Bunch hosted 20-minute assemblies for each grade level.

“They introduced the concept of what [the students] would be doing,” added McKinney. “They gave background on building bridges. It gave the kids an idea of what works and what doesn’t. It got the kids really excited.”

Builder Bunch gave each grade level different specifications on how they could build their bridges. The task was harder for each grade level. For example, kindergarten students could use more columns to support their structure than fifth graders.

Bullard Elementary School students watch as a representative from Builder Bunch tests the bridge that the students built out of LEGOs.

“We made the columns really thick so it would hold up the gray pieces that we put together,” revealed second grader Wyatt. “My suggestion was to make the columns thicker, and it held up really well.”

The length they were required to design their bridge surprised Wyatt, which he admitted made the job more difficult.

Ultimately, Wyatt and his teammates including Jacob built a bridge that was able to hold the most weight in the class.

“I was really happy that our bridge was the winning bridge,” said Jacob.

Jacob most liked that the activity allowed him to work together with his classmates like Wyatt. He enjoyed the teamwork even if they didn’t always agree during the design process.

“I think teamwork was a huge part of trying to build a bridge. I think they were all able to see what they should have done better, which is what you want,” said the boys’ second grade teacher Richelle Elkins. “Going back and reflecting is a very important skill especially at such a young age.”

Bullard Elementary School students watch as a representative from Builder Bunch tests the bridge that the students built out of LEGOs.

Although Jacob’s team won the bridge building-contest, he still saw ways they could improve their design, for example, by adding more platforms.

“It was really neat to see how each group strategized and tried to make their bridge. Some saw some of the same things like how to hold the bridge together,” added Jacob’s teacher.

When it was time to test their construction, all the kids’ eyes were on the bridges during the nail-biting period where the Builder Bunch representative added 100-gram units to the bridge until it collapsed.

According to Elkins, the STEM activity applies to what they are learning in the classroom like counting by hundreds and working in groups.

“They had fun learning,” she said.