Horizons' partnership with the LEGO Community Foundation began in 2015, when Horizons National (HN) was awarded a grant from the Foundation to support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and play-based instructional opportunities for Horizons students. In the past 7 years, STEAM has become a major component of Horizons programs, and a favorite activity among students.
To introduce and train Horizons teachers in play-based learning, LEGO helped Horizons National coordinate a series of professional development opportunities for Horizons program and academic leaders. Held during Horizons' Annual Conference, sessions specifically addressed aspects of STEAM, play-based, and project-based learning. For Horizons sites in Connecticut, Bonnie Morrissette, LEGO Master Trainer for North America, from LEGO Education led the Connecticut Regional STEAM/Play-Based Educator’s Conference, which brought over 50 Horizons educators together for an all-day workshop to learn about the fundamentals of play-based instruction and how to best integrate STEAM into summer learning. According to one participant, "[The workshop] created a better understanding of the importance of play-based learning and gave great ideas that I will incorporate in my classroom. This was the most fun, informative workshop that I have ever attended.”
As a result of these Conferences, Horizons students across the country continue to benefit from STEAM instruction and play- and project-based learning throughout the summer. Many students have had opportunities to learn engineering and coding skills with kits from LEGO robotics, and have received LEGO building kits and activities to take home. In 2018, the CT Horizons STEAM Expo brought together students from 6 Connecticut-based Horizons sites for a full day of STEAM and play-based fun.
Horizons at The Ethel Walker School has expanded their site's relationship with LEGO, launching a project called “A Hands-On, Minds-On Approach to Inspiring Girls' Interest in STEAM.” As an all-girls Horizons site, this project aims to expose more girls to STEAM and create a unique STEAM program tailored to their interests, ultimately helping more young women to gain confidence in STEAM learning and careers. The program hosts an annual STEAM Fair for students and ensures daily opportunities to learn through play and projects.
We're thrilled to continue our partnership with LEGO, and can't wait to see what the future holds for our students and play-based learning.