Maryville University and Magic House Design “Builders Boxes” to Foster Hands-On Learning

The Builders Boxes initiative aims to provide students with open-ended activities to explore the principles of force and motion. Developed by Maryville University in collaboration with the Magic House as part of the LEGO Foundation-funded PEBL (Playful Engineering-Based Learning) project with Tufts University’s Center for Engineering Education Outreach (CEEO), Builders Boxes foster hands-on learning experiences that enhance students’ understanding of these fundamental scientific concepts through play.

These innovative boxes contain materials like flexible tubing, wooden ramps, and pipes, allowing students to construct their own ramps for balls. Teachers play a pivotal role in structured play by actively engaging with students to teach and reinforce the relevant concepts, tailoring their instruction to the appropriate grade level. The Builders Boxes serve as versatile teaching tools that empower educators to create interactive lessons that align with their curriculum.

Five Builders Boxes were meticulously constructed by professional exhibit designers from The Magic House. These boxes are now distributed across 4 different St. Louis schools, each of which possesses a dedicated STEM space and a commitment to STEM education:

  • Larrimore Elementary in Hazelwood School District
  • Parker Road in Ferguson Florissant School District
  • Wyland in Ritenour School District
  • Jackson Park in University City School District

These schools have embraced the Builders Boxes as a valuable resource to enrich their STEM initiatives and provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in the fields of physics and engineering.

In addition, the Maryville Center for Access and Achievement (CA2)  has placed one of the Builders Boxes in their Interactive STEM Studio. This underscores the broader impact of the initiative, extending beyond traditional K-12 education to include community organizations and programs that can benefit from the hands-on learning experiences facilitated by the Builders Boxes.

The Maryville CA2 appreciates the collaborative effort with the Magic House and the CEEO in creating a powerful tool for promoting STEM education.  By funding and distributing these boxes to schools and organizations committed to STEM education, the initiative continues to foster a new generation of young scientists and engineers.

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