Success Academy Primary School’s Lego League Team creates Braille Lego kits

February 21, 2024

SAPS students SOUTH BEND, Ind.– Eight students, part of the Lego League Team at Success Academy Primary School (SAPS), spent the first semester of their school year developing Braille Lego kits for the Innovation Project.

Success Academy Primary School is a charter school authorized by Education One at Trine University.

The First Lego League Challenge has an Innovation Project, which is a team challenge where students create projects to be presented in front of judges that focus on design-thinking, community outreach and solving challenges with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Team 38949 Wolf Pup, including seven fifth-graders and one fourth-grader, decided to create a Lego kit to meet the guidelines of the Masterpiece Innovation Project; how can they share a common hobby and grow a community around that hobby through art and technology.

During the brainstorming process, students started to think of who would be excluded from playing with the Lego kits they made. One of the students recognized her mother would be unable to build Legos due to her being visually impaired.

The students started researching what it meant to be visually impaired, and how it would impact playing with Legos. The students learned that braille Legos exist for reading and math with braille lettering on top of the bricks, but they cannot stack on top of each other. The students decided to create braille Lego kits that are stackable.

To start the creation process, the students started to learn braille by utilizing braille and number charts, and created seven to eight different models before solidifying their Lego design. The students used paper strips, adhesive dots, a braille label machine and Tinkercad, a 3D modeling program, while creating their prototype.

Braiile Legos The students tested out their models by utilizing blindfolds and goggles with lotion to get the perspective of a person who is visually impaired. The students also surveyed the public via Facebook to gain insight on what type of kits to make. Additionally, they created a business plan including time, materials and cost needed to make the Legos.

Dr. Marilyn Nash, Maker Manager at SAPS, shared “I am honored to have watched the students go through the process of creating the Legos. The students had many aha moments in the design process. The students showed incredible teamwork through perseverance and resilience. It was amazing to see the students’ hesitations turn into confidence.”

The students interviewed Dave Ebsersol, the Future Lab Director at Career Academy High School, who helped them discover they could download a Lego brick file for Tinkercad. Once they had a brick design, the students decided to put smooth dots on the Legos and found the perfect size for still being able to connect the Legos.

Once they were satisfied with their model, the team member’s mom came in and tested the Legos with her glasses, without her glasses, and with different lighting. She was able to put together the Legos.

At the first competition this past season, the Lego League Team received the first place Innovation Award for their braille Lego kits. The final kits, available for free, include two base plates and at least 25 Legos.

Nash said, “The most valuable part of the process was watching the team in tears talking about how to ensure they are being inclusive in all they do.”

The students look forward to future collaborations with their braille Legos and sharing their project with the community.

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