GEARED UP

EXPLORING ENGINEERING USING LEGOS

Learning First-Hand

Kids get excited about STEM…

by taking on the hands-on challenge of engineering simple machines with LEGOs.

Students predict, build, and test…

how variables affect the performance of machines, and learn first-hand about friction, mass, moving energy and efficiency.

Students work together…

in teams of two, learning to cooperate, listen and build on their partner’s ideas — and to persist when at first they fail.

Connecting to the real world…

through field trips helps the kids get excited about engineering applications.

HANDS-ON EDUCATIONAL TOOLS


BUILDING A TOY DOG WITH EYES THAT BLINK

CAPTURING WIND ENERGY TO RUN MACHINES

CONSTRUCTING A DRAGSTER AND MAKING IT ROLL FARTHEST

Geared Up brings engineering, physical science, math and technology challenges to elementary school students. Geared Up uses LEGO motorized mechanisms sets to teach exciting hands-on lessons, with students testing their own ideas and working in teams of two.
For example, one project has students experiment to determine which will roll further down a hill, a heavier cart or a lighter one. They also test bigger or smaller wheels to see if these affect the speed of the cart. Students make predictions, build carts and a ramp, measure weights and distances. They learn first-hand about friction, mass, moving energy and efficiency.

GEARED UP:

  • excites students and teachers about engineering and technology

  • prepares a wide variety of students for VEX Robotics in the middle schools

  • connects the community to the classroom by bringing in volunteers, including engineers, technology experts and parents

  • enhances the science and math curricula in elementary school

  • promotes hands-on problem solving and teamwork skills

Geared Up

District 97 Teacher

“The Geared Up program has been invaluable. The hands-on experiences help students to better understand simple machines and their importance in our everyday lives. I also incorporate a writing (persuasive) piece where students create an original machine and try to sell the ‘gadget.'”

Geared Up

District 97 Teacher

“The best part of Geared Up was watching a student who normally struggles in school have his moment to shine when we were working with LEGOs. It feels great to give him a sense of accomplishment.”

Geared Up

District 97 Teacher

“This year our field trip to the Oak Park Public Works Department was awesome! The students saw how simple machines are used everyday in the maintenance of our village and their positive impact and necessity.”

Geared Up

District 97 Teacher

“The students have to practice cooperation, communication, hand-eye coordination and spatial skills that don’t always come by doing a worksheet.”

Geared Up News

Robot Rumble!

  Six teams of VEX Robotics students at Julian Middle School designed robots, then built and battled each other in a Robot Rumble, exploring the various aspects of technology in competitive fun. The hands-on projects were organized in small groups, and kids...

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Robots and the American Revolution

What if Paul Revere was played by a robot? Working with D97 librarians, we recently began a pilot program for fifth graders combining our popular Geared Up and Robotics programs. The six-week residency excites kids about coding, tech, and robots and provides a new...

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Geared Up Guest Blogger: Sofia Ryan

We have some special guest bloggers in March and April as Ms. Nelson’s third graders (Longfellow) have agreed to share their thoughts on the Geared Up program with us. Geared Up is an excellent introduction to engineering, using LEGOs. The program was first proposed...

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“WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU”

$50 supplies LEGOS to a class of OPEF ‘Geared Up’ students for a trimester.

Gretchen Junker

GEARED UP COORDINATOR

Gretchen Junker is the community member who proposed Geared Up to the Oak Park Education Foundation during our Call for Ideas to the community in May, 2008. She is the parent of 3 young boys and has lived in Oak Park for 3 years. Gretchen has a B.A. in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington. “Geared Up shows kids that science (and school) can be fun,” she says. “Our family has always had an interest in how things work, and that curiosity has managed to fuel our day-to-day life. For me, Geared Up is a natural extension of what my 3 sons and I have already incorporated into our ongoing family dialogue.”

Connect with Gretchen at gkjunker@opef.org.