In this introductory lesson, children become acquainted with Mech-a-blocks, try to make things from them, and develop their thinking about how to use these materials.
Introduce the Mech-a-blocks during a class meeting. The video above shows Travis introducing the unit to an after-school group.
We have some new materials in the science area. We call them Mech-a-blocks. Can you describe this piece (holding up a green triangle)?
Focus their attention on the holes and the fasteners:
Distribute the Mech-a-Blocks. In this video Travis conducts the initial distribution in a way that prepares for clean-up.
Encourage children to make something:
When you make something special you want to share, you can keep it until you have had a chance to share it, but after that, we will take the pieces apart so we can use them again.
Provide plenty of room and time to experiment. Children have made spaceships, cameras, houses, birds, camels, faces, tables, as well as abstract designs. Here are samples of some first constructions.
Class meeting: The children will make a variety of things . In this video Travis has children tell about what they have made. Look closely at the processes and products of the work. Select some constructions that are very different from one another, and ask the children who made them to present their work to the rest of the class. Before each child presents his or her work, ask:
After the rest of the class has guessed, allow the child who made it to demonstrate it and discuss what it represents. Then guide the class in thinking and talking about each construction:
Clean-up, letting each student save one construction for the next lesson. This video shows Travis conducting a clean-up.
Note: This “lesson” might last for several periods or more. It should continue as long as children are coming up with new ideas, and following them through.