Maryville University’s Center for Access and Achievement (CA2) provides STEM outreach programs throughout the St. Louis area. They also offer teacher education, curriculum, and resources. With the Playful Engineering Based-Learning (PEBL) grant from the LEGO Foundation, Maryville CA2 expanded its impact by creating transformative tools that blend joy with learning, making education an immersive experience.
The centerpiece of Maryville CA2’s PEBL work is MAP MATS, three colorful floor mats featuring scenes of a beach, a playground, and a roadway. The mats are modeled after First LEGO League mats and feature a map grid tailored to a DUPLO 2×2 brick. To pair with the mats, the Maryville team developed a comprehensive activity guide with 25 science and math activities to use with the mats, DUPLO bricks, craft materials, and books.
The impact of MAP MATS was immediately felt, with these mats becoming the cornerstone of Maryville’s summer STEM programs, with nine teachers and over 250 students learning math and science while playing with LEGO. The summer experience helped the Maryville team determine what materials were needed to bring these activities to a classroom. With that knowledge, they assembled 50 classroom kits that contain multiple LEGO Education DUPLO sets, DUPLO people, three vinyl-printed MAP MATS, the MAP MATS Activity Guide, and the book “Slopes, Slides, and Ramps.” Kits were distributed to local schools in time for the fall semester.
To reach a broader audience, PDF files of the MAP MATs and the activity guide are now available for free download to the general public on Maryville’s website. Teachers anywhere can now print out their own mats and start implementing the activities in their classrooms.
In addition to the MAP MATS, the CA2 team collaborated with the St. Louis Children’s Museum, The Magic House. Together, they designed and tested Builders Boxes. These modular, inventive boxes contain materials like flexible tubing, wooden ramps, and pipes, enabling students to construct their ramps for balls. Five sets of these Builders Boxes have been built and distributed to local schools and are being used at CA2’s new STEM center.
Maryville CA2 is spreading Playful Engineering-Based Learning across St. Louis, as they’ve shared their innovative tools with over 100 teachers and at least 1,000 students. Their impact will continue to grow as the products are used in more classrooms.