photo by Paul Goyette

LEGOs, LEGOs, LEGOs! It may sound just like play time, but in OPEF’s summer BASE Camp Geared Up program, kids used LEGOs to learn about basic machines and concepts of motion and force. Among the machines built were a working clock, a dogbot with a moving tail and jaw, and a walking bug. On this particular day, the kids were building windmills. Aaron C., a Hatch 3rd grader showed how a crank powered by a windmill can lift a block, demonstrating how wind is a viable power source in the real world.

Jackson G, a Whittier 4th grader, said “these are much cooler, bigger” than other things he has built with LEGOs. “I’m making things that actually work!” He built a car with a motor as well as an egg beater during the camp.

Holmes teachers John McCauley taught the first 2-week session of Geared Up along with Holmes colleague Colleen Cushing. He noted that the Geared Up program has “built-in differentiation”–an important component of District 97 classrooms. “It’s great for all different levels. You can take off with it or just get the basics. Parents are telling me that their kids are coming home saying this is the best
camp they’ve ever gone to.”

Mr. McCauley explained that Geared Up is also a natural pre-course to get kids interested in VEX Robotics. Holmes 3rd grader Danny L. said, “I’m going to do VEX Robotics when I get to 6th grade. I like tweaking with stuff and doing electric stuff.” He also visited the VEX Robotics BASE Camp program during his time at Geared Up.

Louisa V., a ninth-grader and teaching assistant for Geared Up, loves working with the younger kids. “I like building and it’s cool to see them build and learn at the same time.”