Category Archives: Lego Creator

Lego and Robotics Academy July 2012

Dinos In July

When my third son turned 7 in January, he became an official member of the Lego and Robotics Academy 4H club.  The club members are ages 7-18.  Siblings can attend, play quietly, and watch.  But he is no longer an observer.  Now he actually gets to participate.  He has been overjoyed to say the least.  He looks forward to the next meeting all month long. He received a dinosaur set for his birthday and took it to his first club meeting for Show and Tell.

Given his new found “member” status, and his love of dinosaurs and Legos, this same 7 year old son came to me and said “Mom, can we do a dinosaur theme for our Lego club competition?”  I don’t know what I was thinking when I said “Sure son, I will see what I can do to create a dinosaur program for our club.”   For months I have banged my head on the wall trying to figure out how to make this happen.  I questioned myself “Had I spoke to soon?”  I said that fateful “Sure” almost six months ago, and month after month, I “wasn’t sure” how to make it happen.  Finally, July was our opening for the dinosaurs.

I have never ever met a kid that didn’t like dinosaurs.  They are fascinating creatures.  We have learned much about them, yet in the larger scheme of life and history, we know so little about them.  Still much of what we think we know is conjecture and speculation.

Over the past several hundred years, man has uncovered bones, teeth, claws, poop, eggs, and has tried to piece together a picture of these monsters from the past.  My children and I have read books, watched videos, and watched some of the re-creation programs on the Discovery channel over the past few years, where historians, palenientologists, archeologists and film makers have come together to try to recreate the “land of the dinosaurs”.  We have also compared what we hear and learn from these programs to the bible and biblical dinosaur experts from places like the Creation Museum in Kentucky and in Texas.   Still, no matter how much we know, don’t know, and guess, we find these creatures mysterious and fascinating.

Today’s 4H Club Meeting Agenda & Plans:

You are a designer/engineer wanting to create a dinosaur Lego and robotic model based on clues from the animals that lived in the past, and from ideas of current technology. 
Observe the “land of the dinosaurs”.  Pick them up, touch, looking closely at details, etc.
Draw your own dinosaur creation on Lego Brick Paper
Observe a technogaget toy dinosaur robot that transforms from dinosaurs of the past into a fast car of the present.
Build a T-Rex Lego Creations Dinosaur
Go exploring and dig in sand pits like archeologists for lots of different kinds of dinosaurs.
Re-create a “land of the dinosaurs” using the ideas of paleontologists, the dinosaurs from the sand pit dig, and the Lego dinosaur you built.


We had a short business meeting.  Today was a little different as we had a substitute president who openend the meeting, and a substitute vice president who introduced visitors and new club members (our president and vice president were not able to be there today).  The secretary went over “stuff” we have going on such as our Raffle Fundraiser, and upcoming 4H Animal Showmanship Clinic, and the upcoming projects for the NC Mountain State Fair. 


Land Of The Dinosaur

Today I set up a “Land of the Dinosaurs” display at the front of the room.  The display contained kits from Animal Planet Tub of Dinosaurs (various size and kinds of dinosaurs, and volcanoes, trees, land and water) and Discount School Supply’s Giant Dinosaurs.   We also had V-Tech Switch & Go Dinos (RoboticTransforming Dinosaurs), a Diego Jeep, Binoculars, shovels and sifters, tweezers, magnifying glasses, clothes pins & wooden eggs (to build a nest), and a hand broom.

Design Challenge:

The kids were encouraged to come up and handle the dinosaur display, look closely feel all of the items, etc.

Then they were asked to take a seat, get an idea in their mind of a dinosaur they would like to build. The kids were each given a piece of special graph paper called Lego brick paper and a sharpened pencil.  They were asked to draw the shape of their creation on the Lego brick paper.


Learning to translate their ideas onto paper is such an important step in their learning process.  It builds and enhances many cognitive skills in the design process.  Lego MBA curriculum encourages kids to draw their designs.  We got the Lego Brick Graph Paper from the Lego MBA website.  See below for a link for this printable.


They were given about 20 minutes to accomplish this task.  They were asked to take their drawing home and build a dinosaur with Legos based on their drawing.  The Lego brick paper is great because you can count how many Lego bricks long the nose is, or how many tall the body is, or how many bricks you need for the tail, etc.  The kids can get a rough idea and it helps them gage how many bricks they will need to use to create their design.  If they make changes to the design, then they should make the changes on their Lego brick paper.  They were asked to bring back a finished dinosaur they have created and their drawing they based it from, to the next club meeting for show and tell.


Next, they spent some time playing with two different VTech Switch & Go Dinos.  My 9 year old son, and 12 year old son demonstrated for the club how these work.  These are robotic transforming dinosaur toys.  They have a robotic head / face that has over 50 sound effects and facial features to choose from.  They transform from dinosaurs into race cars that race across the floor, and the dino face becomes the car window and kids can choose a driver that appears in the window and racing sound effects with the buttons. 

We passed these around to all the kids and they transformed them back and forth and pushed the buttons to select different options.  They looked at how the toys were made and located the speakers where the sound comes out. 

They hypothesized about the computer program that created and recorded the sounds.  They deciphered it was pre-programmed to sense motion which activated the pre-recorded sounds.  We have experimented with a program like this in our club meetings with the Lego Education WeDo Robotics.  The kids have programmed a Roaring Lion (sleeps /snores, eats /chomps, and sits up and roars).  All the sounds are motion activated and the actions are movement or tilt activated.  This was a neat way to tie in the concepts of what they have been learning and see how an inventor used this process in a toy (VTech Dino) that kids play with.

Build Challenge:

Next, they were divided into two teams.  They were given a box of Lego Creator Prehistoric Hunters kits.  These have 191 pieces.  Each set creates three different dinosaurs. 


Today the building challenge was to build the T-Rex model.   They had 35 minutes to work together as a team and build the model. 


Learning to work together as a team to accomplish a goal is very important. In these huddles, you will find them negotiating, suggesting, helping, encouraging, taking turns, setting out parts for each other, asking each other questions, and moving towards the goal.


When they had finished building the T-Rex, the teams had to explain what techniques (they have learned about techniques in Lego MBA), that they used to build this dinosaur model.

Here are just a few of the techniques the kids used:

  • Color

  • Locking

  • Sideways Building

  • Symmetrical

  • Balance

  • Hinge

  • Detailing

Next they went outside and explored a sand pit (large boxes of sand) full of buried dinosaurs.  They had 10 minutes to locate various dinosaurs with shovels and scoops, and them clean them off with a brush. 

Then bring the dinosaurs they found back inside and re-create the scene they observed and played with at the front of the room at the beginning of the meeting. 
Once they were back inside at their team’s table, they had to use blue and green construction paper, dinosaurs they uncovered in the sand pits, trees, volcanos, and their Lego T-Rex dinosaur they built to re-create a “Land Of The Dinosaurs” scene.


Team 1 was first finishing their dinosaur, but both team 1 and team 2  tied in the end by the time they had everything finished. (a fellow is missing in the picture for team 2). It was a good Dinosaur Building Competition.

 Show and Tell

Next we had Show and Tell.  For our Show and Tell portion of the meeting, kids bring various items related to Legos, robotics, or things they have created, or projects they are interested in to the meeting.  Most of the time these creations are made with their Lego MBA kits.  But they are welcome to bring in other things too.  We usually spend about 30 minutes or so.  Each kid is asked to spend about 3 minutes telling us about what they brought.

We had a four different kids bring projects they made with their Lego MBA kits.  There were airplanes, space planes, space trash collection ship, and a rock band all made with their Lego MBA kits.  The plane in the second photo above was actually made using three kits from his Lego MBA program.  Wow, what a master piece!


The kids also shared a r
obot made from a soda pop can, a Robots movie, and a Bloco Dinosaur building set my son just got the night before and didn’t have a chance to build it yet.  

Bloco Dinosaur Building Set   He plans to bring the finished project next time.  He was so excited to find this kit. 

Here is a video of one of the kids showing the kids his soda pop can robot he built with his dad:

Where to find resources:

Lego Brick Paper

Giant Soft Dinosaur Set

Animal Planet Big Tub of Dinosaurs 

VTech Switch & Go Dinos

You would not believe the love and hugs and comments I got for days following the meeting.  That was awesome mom, lets do it again!  That was so much fun!  

Whew!  It all came together… now…. I need to….. get busy….. and plan….. the next one…….


 If you can help with donations to our fundraising efforts for these kids, please see the fundraising story posted here  to see how you can help us.

This post will be linked up with

No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers

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