Passion for building

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cassville School District parent Kara Fletcher's passion and interest in building has inspired the formation of a new children's club. The Eagle Rock Lego Club held its second meeting of March on March 16.

"A friend and I started thinking about how fun it would be to get a group of kids together and expose them to Legos," said Fletcher. "Multiple levels of learning go along with this activity. I was excited to share how fun building can be on a creative level or a competitive level.

"When I did the Cat in the Hat, I got an interesting response from the kids at school," continued Fletcher. "They would tell me about things they had built and then they began bringing in their creations. It is really courage for a child to build something and think it is worthy to be displayed in a window."

Fletcher said that she has used Lego building as a family activity in her home for some time and wanted to share the experience with others.

"We reached out to the community to see if there was an interest for this, and we approached the Eagle Rock Community Center to request permission to use the facility for group meetings."

Several community members, including the Eagle Rock Community Association, were eager to assist with and support the Lego club idea.

"At our first meeting this month we had 25 kids show up," said Fletcher. "That was better than we ever dreamed. We decided to meet one Tuesday and one Saturday a month to give families two options for participating in the club."

Fletcher also approached Lego to request a free subscription to Lego Club magazine.

Although the club was originally established as an activity for children ages six to 16, Fletcher has opened the group up to preschool age children with adult supervision.

"We have small pieces," said Fletcher. "We strongly encourage preschoolers to come with their parents. We also want teens to realize that this club takes building to the next level with robotics and technology set ups. It's not just child's play."

During each club meeting, participants take part in a structured build, trivia time, learn building concepts and the names of the building pieces, receive a snack and take part in free play. Kids get to take their creations home with them.

Participants can aim for the Builder of the Month Award and have the opportunity to display their builds on a brag board that will be on display at each meeting. The club also loans building books and provides participants with Lego necklace pieces each time they attend a meeting.

At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, Fletcher created an enormous Cassville Wildcat head for the Cassville Intermediate School Back to School window display. Fletcher is currently working with a group of middle school students to create a logo to go with the Wildcat and both creations will be entered into a building contest later this year.

"There are so many educational aspects you can bring into this, and the kids don't even realize that they are learning," said Fletcher. "I really want to reintroduce the value of building and architecture to children."

Fletcher, who has a post-secondary education background in architecture, said that the building project currently underway on the Cassville campus is an excellent opportunity to get kids excited about building. In fact, Paragon Architecture, which designed the emergency shelter building, is also hosting the Lego building competition.

"If we win, the first place prize will go back to the school for the Bright Futures program," said Fletcher. "That is exciting because some of these students don't normally have an opportunity to make that kind of positive difference for their school, and they are embracing the challenge in hopes of making a difference."

For more information on the Eagle Rock Lego Club or to find meeting dates, visit www.eaglerocklegoclub.weebly.com or call Fletcher at 846-3059 or the Eagle Rock Library at 271-3186.

Fletcher said she would be interested in expanding the Lego Club to other local libraries if other communities or facilities are interested in hosting a building group.

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