Basic Engineering Workshops Start Up at South Park

Gonzalo, Greg, and Sergio assemble pieces of Legos

RecTech Teens at South Park began building and programming a racecar using Lego Mindstorms NXT in January.For the first session, participants grouped in pairs for a quick activity called the Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB&J) Sandwich challenge. Pairs typed up directions on how to build a PB&J sandwich, and then assigned a ‘lead’ and a ‘builder.’ Their mission was to build a PB&J from start to finish–taking bread out of the bag, opening the jar of PB & J, to putting the slices together in the end. The purpose of this activity was to engage students in thinking critically when giving directions as well as to learn how to lead and be led. Although only one out of four groups built a sandwich without a hitch, everyone enjoyed PB&J sandwiches with their peers.

After completing the PB&J Sandwich Challenge, students picked out a project, arranged themselves in specific roles: ‘assembly’ (in charge of putting together pieces), ‘assembly manager’ (in charge of making sure pieces are in correct place), ‘director’ (in charge of leading assembly line with directions), and film (in charge of documenting progress). In addition to building and programming Lego Mindstorm projects, be on the look out for a short stop-motion animation film on their progress soon!

Dan, our Electrical Engineering volunteer, shows students the voltage meter

We also started offering basic electrical engineering workshops this month. Thanks to Dan, a local South Park Teen Programs volunteer, teens learned to build mini electromagnets and began to brainstorm ideas on how to build a small electric car (using household items). Next week, teens will ramp up production of these small electric cars to prepare for the mini-car race and the electric scooter rodeo sometime in March. For examples of mini-car projects, please visit:

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