Tag Archives: open-ended blocks

Using Blocks for Corporate Problem Solving

Using Legos for 3-D graphing

Companies like GM are using Legos to visualize production problems.

“We discussed … our frustrations with some of our reports not showing us what we really needed to see,” Dennis Pastor writes Co.Design.  We came to the conclusion that our processes were 3-dimensional but our reports were only 2-dimensional. We needed to see them 3-D; hand sketches were exchanged over the weekend and within the following week, GM had the first LEGO prototype in use. But beyond their transparency, there may be a bigger advantage to Legos: they’re also fun. By mapping real world problems to an icon of our youth, each challenge must be approached with an inherent playfulness. And because Legos are, by their very nature, expected to be rebuilt, patterns don’t appear stuck in stone–or just as bad–printed in ink. Now, if only we could get the Lego pirate ship or a lunar rover in the mix, we’d really have something.”

This is the second article that talks about the use of Legos as a tool/toy for adults to represent ideas in a three-dimensional form and, to have “fun” in the process. We know that children use all blocks in the same way – to visualize, test and retest ideas since the flexibility of blocks allows them to knock them down and rebuild again. It is curious that Pastor wants to add the Lego pirate ship or the lunar rover which seems to be the opposite idea of the non-representational, open-ended, and therefore, flexible nature of the Lego brick and, of blocks in general.

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Build-O-Rama at Shelburne Museum

Learning Materials Workshop was invited by Shelburne Museum’s Education Department to include our open-ended blocks as part of the Museum’s family program, “Build-O-Rama”.

Last Thursday, we packed our car full of Science and Inventors Kits and lots of Colorframes, Arcobalenos, and prism blocks and drove to the Owl Cottage for the Museum’s special ‘Sunset Series’ event. For over two hours, children from ages two to twelve and their parents built some amazing structures with Learning Materials Workshop blocks. It is always curious to see children of such varied ages equally engaged with LMW blocks. The structures clearly differ in complexity but the open-ended quality of the blocks provided unending challenges, possibilities and delights. Check out some of the creations from Build-O-Rama:

Jasmine beginning her creation using Carosello

Jasmine working hard on her creation.

Jasmine at Build-O-Rama, Shelburne Museum 2011

Jasmine putting finishing touches on her LMW block creation

Play session with "Color & Form Blocks"

The beginning of Eric's prism tower

Eric succeeded in building a tower that was taller than him!

For more information about Shelburne Museum, visit http://shelburnemuseum.org/

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