For the Love of Learning Episode #105
Learning with Lego
Monday May 22, 2017, 6:30pm-8:30pm EDT
Monday May 22, 2017, 11:30pm-1:30am BST
“When kids are building with lego, they’re using spatial reasoning skills,” says Amy Shelton, a cognitive psychologist and director of research at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
“These skills not only have a relationship to academics, but to the fields you might gravitate to, and where you’re going to excel. If you want to build future STEM enthusiasts, you need to start with fundamental skills and they need to come early,” Shelton says. “Something as simple as making sure kids have exposure to block play would set them up for a future where they can build the right kinds of skills for whatever field they want to go into, and they won’t be restricted because of their lack of early experience.”
Tonight we are going to have a conversation with 4 people who work with children using lego in different capacties. Some of our guests offer classes, workshops, birthday parties, summer camps. Some focus on different learning aspects like, architecture, teamwork, engineering, robotics, and creativity. We’ve got a lot to explore but the common thread in tonight’s conversation is the connection between playing and learning.
Laura is the President and CFO of the Snapology franchise system. Laura, along with her sister Lisa, founded Snapology in 2010. Snapology’s mission is to provide educational play to children using LEGO® bricks, K’Nex, computers and other interactive mediums. Snapology’s provides robotics and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs to children of all abilities, including gifted children and those with extra needs. Laura oversees the daily operations of the Snapology franchise; including franchisee support, lead generation, systems development, curriculum development and the function of the local Pittsburgh-South franchise. Prior to starting Snapology, Laura held a successful career as a health care actuary for 20+ years. As a health care actuary, she held senior-level positions with Aetna, CVS Pharmacare, Eckerd Health Services and Mercer Human Resource Consulting. In these roles, Laura was responsible for pricing, plan design, cost containment strategies, trend analysis and strategic guidance for pharmacy, dental and behavioral health products. Laura has also presented to various State legislatures and members of the US Senate and House of Representative on various topics involving prescription drug programs. Laura holds B.S. degree in Mathematics from Penn State University. She is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. She lives in the Pittsburgh area with her two children.
Jim Brown runs a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise in High Bridge, NJ.
I have been a Bricks 4 Kidz owner for 5 years. Prior to that I was in the financial services industry for 20 years, working for Electronic Data Systems, The CIT Group and Macquarie Bank. Before that I was in the telecommunications industry.
I attended Stetson College, Deland, Fla.
Bricks 4 Kidz offers Summer Camps, After School Programs, Birthday Parties, School Field Trips, STEM Programs, and more, all using Lego bricks.
Jeff Harry plays for a living. Since Jeff was little, he has always pursued whatever he found the most fun. Whether that was making up games for his friends, writing toy companies to give them his ideas at the age of 10, playing with toys at Times Toys R Us under the Ferris Wheel as a paid gig or now getting adults and kids to play with LEGO. Jeff learned a crucial lesson early on in his life while playing. If you able to create a safe place for people to play, not only are they happier, but you give them an avenue to discover more of who they are.
Jeff graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from Tufts University. He went on to work for various toy companies, including Toys R US Corporation and Sega of America. In 2004, he came across an organization called Play-Well TEKnologies, that was introducing kids to the world of engineering using the medium of LEGO. It had 7 employees and was teaching 500 kids per year. Now, Play-Well TEKnologies has over 350 employees, teaches over 100,000 kids/year, and has expanded to 27 states, as well as Paris, France. Through Play-Well’s evolution, the core idea of providing a safe space for kids to explore, learn, and be amazed by their own abilities has held true.
Jeff’s job has recently evolved from not only being the VP of Marketing but also the VP of Fun at Play-Well. This job includes coming up with fun collaborations with major companies, such as Facebook, Google, Adobe, and 21st Century Fox, to working with major sports franchises such as the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Cal Bears, NC State Wolfpack, and Minnesota Vikings. Through Play-Well’s Play Workshops, In the last 5 years, Jeff has helped staff at Fortune 500 companies rediscover their creativity and embrace failure through play. Some of these companies include Google, Clorox, Medtronic, Visa, Abbott, and Southwest Airlines. When Jeff isn’t playing at his job, you will find him on a Big Wheel or riding his luggage scooter through an airport.
Jeff Harry is the VP of Marketing & Fun at Play at Play Well TEKnologies.
I was born in Richmond, California, grew up in Boulder Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado with a major in Spanish. Along the way I obtained two Master’s degrees, my Educational Administrative license and various certificates. I taught Spanish, Advanced Placement Spanish Language, and English as a Second Language in Colorado, Texas and California. I am fluent in Portuguese as well and understand French and Italian and intend to learn Arabic this year.
My son and I left the United States ten years ago and have been traveling in Mexico, Central America and South America. We have settled in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for three years and have opened the Language Institute of the Americas, which is a subdivision of Universal One International Academy. We are Creating a global School much as the Xavier Academy developing future global citizens. We offer in person and on line classes and have a Dormitory which sleeps 12 individuals for Total Immersion classes and Summer classes. Bubba and I have been teaching English, Robotics, and Computer programming Applications on our travels. In addition, we are the Corporate Trainers of employees of El Diario de Yucatan ( the #1 newspapercompany in the Yucatan) Newspaper which is owned by Mega Media of Mexico, and have been teaching English for the past one and a half years at three locations in Merida.
In our travels we met Lainie Liberti and Miro over five years ago in Nicaragua and have stayed in contact with our friends over the years. We were even roommates in Huanchaco, Peru and had a blast sharing our adventures. Lainie encouraged me to start a blog site which I named Conscious Baby Boomers. We have other sites as well such as LanguageinstituteoftheAmericas.com, Universaloneacademy.com, Tlalikalli.com, Theuniversalhome.org – which is adobe housing construction.
It is our mission to be Agents of Change and to serve and educate the under served communities in which we live in whatever way possible. We are truly thankful for the opportunity to present our information and knowledge to a larger community and are here to help you learn another language as well as other subject matter.
This episode is produced by Anne Boie
Hosted by Lainie Liberti
As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website RaisingMiro.com and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teen son at: ProjectWorldSchool.com. You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.
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