Our June meeting in the Lego and Robotics Academy was all about Downhill Racing. We used the force of gravity to energize custom built Lego race cars. When the starting gate was opened, we raced downhill to victory!
This was a special meeting this month, because we celebrated our 1 year anniversary of our club. Not all of our club members could be with us on this day, as many are away on summer vacation or have a scheduling conflict. But we still had a good turnout for our celebration.
My son’s 11th birthday was the beginning of something amazing last year! About two months before his birthday, he began asking me to buy him the Lego MBA for his birthday. When I researched this learning program, I fell in love with the genius of teaching kids with Legos! It opened my eyes that Legos were far more than just a toy to build with. Legos and the Lego MBA program are wonderful teaching tool for kids to learn with.
As my son began building with it, I realized all three of my older children would enjoy learning with it too. It is awesome! We ordered an additional Lego MBA program for our 9 year old son and promised the next son that we would get it for his 7th birthday in a few more months. It is a $99 investment to buy levels 1 and 2 (level three is available also) and when buying for several children it feels like a huge investment. The second son enjoyed it as much as his older brother. They thought their friends would enjoy it too, so I began telling other homeschool families in our local community about the Lego MBA learning kits. From there I was inspired to start a club for kids who loved learning with Legos and Robots.
Per special request (he can’t resist my special requests), and in honor of this 1 year achievement, my husband built a wonderful downhill race track. It is 16 feet long. He worked many longs hours building it and it turned out awesome!
He had asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and my response was “a race track and party for our club”. Hum….strange request for Mother’s Day I know, but… I just love my kids so much that I wanted something super duper special to share with them.
My husband was a gem! He got to work on the track, (right after a couple of nights and a weekend cleaning up the garage so he had a place to work…ahem…).
Then he had all three of our older boys (ages 7, 9, and 11) help him build it. They worked on it a few nights after he got home from work, and a few weekends and finished it just in time to have a great party with it. It is awesome!
It can race three cars at once. The race track has a special starting gate and a finish line. The starting gate is a combination of dow rods, and springs, and a lever. It has slots that hold three cars and allows them to all start at the same time when the lever is pushed down. I am so proud of the craftsmanship and details he put into this project.
Show and Tell
Show and Tell was all about custom Lego race cars. Each kid shared about the race car they created for the race today. For the past year, all these great kids have been working their way through Level 1 (kits 1,2,3) and Level 2 (kits 4, 5, 6) of the Lego MBA program. So we decided to use the building techniques we have learned and the project ideas in kit 6, “race cars”, as our focus for our celebration.
We did the Show and Tell portion of our meeting at the beginning today, rather than at the end like we usually do, because we wanted to see all these great race car creations, before they raced down hill and possibly crashed into pieces! Oh yea of little faith!
The kids were able to build any Lego race car they wanted. They could use Lego MBA or any Legos they choose. They were welcome to modify other race car kits, or come up with something completely original.
However, they were encouraged to use the building techniques they had learned through out the Lego MBA program and especially the techniques in kit 6 that focused specifically on race cars. They were also asked to stay within a 3 inch to 3 1/2 inch width so their car could easily roll down the race track lanes.
After seeing all these cars, and hearing all the special features each kid put into their creations, this was sure to be a challenging race today!
The Pass For The Race Car Drivers
Everyone needs a pass to get into the races, right? And drivers need their own special pass! These passes pictured above are Lego Race VIP passes for the kids to wear for our downhill race. One of the moms in our club designed the pass on her computer and emailed it to me. I had the passes printed at Staples office supply store. I picked them up, and my kids helped me cut each one out. The other mom purchased the lanyard straps with a clip at the dollar store, and the badge pockets at Walmart. And wallah, a terrific and wearable VIP pass! How neat is that? These are so cool. The parents filled them out at the party. There is a place for each child’s name, age, and the information about today’s celebration. The kids wore them for the race and through out the party, and were able to take them home as a keepsake.
After Show And Tell, the kids came to the race track to do some practice runs with their cars. This was a good opportunity for the kids to see if their cars needed modifications before the actual race.
It also gave them a chance to see if they built their cars sturdy enough and with the right techniques so they didn’t all apart going down the track. Lego MBA taught the kids several design techniques to accomplish these goals.
These practice runs also gave the adults a chance to see who’s cars were built similar in weight and abilities. When it came time for the actual race, we were able to pair up race cars with similar race times.
Then they raced three times down the track, each time eliminating the slower car, until eventually we had three winners. This was really exciting.
They narrowed the finalists down to the three fastest cars for a final race against each other. First place in on the right, second place in the middle, and third place is on the left in the photo above. It maybe hard to see, but two of the three final cars that won, were built from the Lego MBA kit 6. All three winning cars were made from the kids own designs or modifications to designs they read about in kit 6. It was really important to build their cars using these techniques so they had proper wheel clearance, were proportionately balanced, and didn’t fall apart on the race track. It is so cool how much these kids have learned this past year!
Fellowship and Refreshments
On the menu is PIZZA! We had three kinds (pepperoni, hamburger, and cheese) to choose from. We also had raw vegetables (carrots, celery, peppers, cauliflower) and dip, cheese, cheese log, several kinds of crackers, cookies, brownies, m&m’s, marshmallow pops, chocolate donut “tires”, and a Lego cake. We had several kinds of fruit juice and bottled water for drinks.
The food and fellowship is a definately highlight to our day. We love eating and sharing this time together.
Decorations & Setup
The decorations for our party were a combination of items I found at different stores ( Walmart, Dollar Tree, Mighty Dollar, and online at Oriental Trading and Amazon). I found inflatable tires, checkered flags, oil cans, gas cans, race cars, balloons (black, white, and red), gloves, tire gages, oil rags, oil pans, checkered flag banners for the race track and ceiling, tons of prizes and gifts, and so many fun decorations to brighten up our party.
I used several colors and checkered patterns including: bold red, bold blue, bold yellow, black, white, red and white checks, and black and white checks color combinations for the decorations and table ware. We hung a checkered flag banner from the ceiling tiles and along the race track too.
I set up four stations, made Lego racing theme signs for each station, and assigned a parent to help out at each station. The stations were: Pit Stop: Fuel; Pit Stop: Oil; Hall Of Fame; and the Winners Circle.
Pit Stop: Fuel (food),
Besides food, this table was decorated with gas cans, gas funnels, and race cars.
Pit Stop: Oil (drinks),
Besides the drinks, this table was decorated with race cars, oil cans, oil funnels, oil filters, and oil pans. We used oil pans filled with ice to keep the drinks cold.
Hall Of Fame (desert tables decorated with pictures of the club’s accomplishments).
Well, my poster was missing. I had it all planned out for the Hall Of Fame, and had ordered a collage poster of activities we had done during the year. This poster picture was “in route” for too long, and finally got delivered the same day, by the Fed Ex man, but it was when I got home from the party that afternoon. Arrrrrrggggggh!
Besides a whole bunch of yummy deserts, this table quickly became two tables and they were decorated with red and white checkered plates and napkins, black/red/white balloons, and so much yummy goodness!
The pictures below show off three of the fun treats we enjoyed that had a “race theme” or a “Lego theme”: chocolate donuts that looked like tires, a Lego cake, and Lego minifigure head pops.
These chocolate donuts were a gift to our club from manager Steve at the local Dunkin Donuts. He is a great supporter of kids learning about engineering. His son is graduating from highschool, and is a young engineer very interested in Legos and robotics and engineering. This summer he is on an engineering summer program. Though he is not in our club and is ready to go on to college, he has done a lot of learning adventures like ours in the past. When Steve heard about our club and our celebration party, he graciously offered to make “tire” donuts for us and show his support of our program. Thank you Steve!
The mom who created the VIP passes also made a Lego cake. This is so cute and fun to eat.
Another mom made these fun marshmallow Lego Minifigure Head Pops. These are made by skewering marshmallows and dipping the marshmallows into white chocolate tinted with yellow food coloring. Then piping on the face. She also made some heads without the skewer and used the yellow colored “dip” as a hat. So CUTE!
Winner’s Circle (prizes, trophies, goodie bags).
This table was loaded with prizes! See the pictures below in PRIZES to see a close up of some of the prizes we gave away……..
We had so many great prizes at our party today. We had prizes for everyone, plus special prizes for the winners of our down hill race.
Every child took home prizes.
Some of the prizes included:
3D race car puzzles (these become a race car that has rolling wheels).
racing puzzles (24 piece, 48 piece, and 100 piece puzzles)
racing board games
racing card games
pull back race cars
tires that are eraser / pencil sharpeners (see picture of tires on table above)
race car pencil case kits with matching ruler, eraser, pencil, and sharpener
The three winners with the three fastest cars got the first pick of prizes from the list above, plus they each took home a trophy to commemorate the day. Then the rest of the kids got to pick out a prize of their choice to take home. Everyone is a winner!
Finally, each kid received a wonderful racing theme goodie bag to take home. Inside each bag was three kinds of candy, pencils, tire eraser sharpeners, bubbles, tire disk flingers, 3D eraser puzzle cars, and a sheet of race car stickers.
Check out this video of the down hill Lego race:
I will always remember the fun we had today, and the fun we have had the whole year through. My kids have sure enjoyed learning and building with Legos, robots, science and engineering, making new friends, and learning about each of the families who join us each month in these adventures.
All these great kids have been a special highlight in my life this past year. Each and everyone of them is special. I am sure they will go on to reach their full potential in their bright futures. They are all blessed!
This post will be linked up with:
No Time For Flash Cards
Feasting In Fellowship
Downhill Race In June at Lego and Robotics Academy
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