Name of Activity LEGO House
Author Emily Taintor
Keywords LEGO, house, building, town, electricity, circuit, light, bulb, constraints, construction, squishy circuits
Subject Non-LEGO, LEGO Building
Grade Level 3, 4, 5
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will build LEGO houses that are lit by LED bulbs to certain design constraints.
Lesson Objectives: – Introduce students to LEGO building under design constraints
– Familiarize students with the process of planning and implementing a circuit
Materials Needed: – LEGO Bricks
– LED Bulbs
– Wires (or playdough)
– House bases (for the design constraint)
– Batteries
– Alligator clips
Preparation and Set Up: – Give each group a base, bricks, an LED bulb, and wire (or playdough)
– Explain design constraints
Necessary Background Basic electricity information, LEGO familiarity
  1. Distribute materials
  2. Explain design constraints
  3. Students should begin by constructing a LEGO House to whatever design constraints the instructors decide upon. Our class had size and height constraints (had to fit on the small base, had to be big enough for a LEGO man to live in) but they could be any sort of design constraint, service learning-related or otherwise. During the building process the students should be considering how they want to wire the house so that an LED bulb can light the inside of the house from a battery on the outside of the house.
  4. Once the house has been constructed, have the students plan out the circuit that they want to use to light the house. We had the students use just one LED bulb so the circuits were very basic.
  5. Students should wire the house so that the LED bulb lights the inside of the house from a battery on the outside. We used playdough instead of wires to create the circuit to build off of the squishy circuits activity, so they had a lot of flexibility on implementing the actual circuit.
  6. Students should assemble their houses in one big “town” and present their houses to the rest of the class. Students should be able to explain their circuit to the class, as well.
Extensions: – Make the house more realistic (make the light connect to the ceiling or look like a lamp)
– Give more specific design constraints
– Use more than one bulb per house – would create better diversity of solutions
– Have groups of students create ‘neighborhoods’ so that they have to combine their circuits to connect to one communal energy source
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2 Responses to LEGO House

  1. Instead of Legos, we have been using foamboard for the house.
    It was a good learning experience for the students to focus on measuring dimensions of the house. It was a nice way to review units, area, and perimeter. We had the students map out the walls/roof of the poster board and we cut it out with an Exacto knife.
    Some students had measured incorrectly, so it was an interesting process to talk about how house assembly would work.
    Once students started to build, some got distracted by decorating the house. We had to talk about how this is an engineering project, not an art project, and re-focused the students on design elements of the house.
    We are using a heat-sensing app on the iPad to show areas of heat loss in the house, i.e. via doors, windows, insulated areas.
    We led class discussion on how to build a house that uses energy efficiently and insulates properly.

  2. We used this activity as an introduction to our curriculum so we did not incorporate electricity with lego building. The activity focused on building a sturdy tower of about 20 cm high (the height can be adjusted depending on lego size and time given for building). We had a drop test in place to check the strength on the tower and the buildings were dropped from the height of the desk.
    After the test some students had time for redesign while others did not. At the end of the activity we led a class discussion on what worked and what did not work as well. We also got them to discuss the importance of a strong base to support the whole structure.
    Overall the activity went smoothly, but when the houses broke we had to emphasizes that it was not a failure.

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