Lego Education Foundation brings event into classrooms

| Audrey Dighans copy editor |

For PSU students, an 8:30 a.m. class assembly might be a bit too early in the morning for a required high level of enthusiasm, a visit and gift from Gus Gorilla and Lego creations to build. For the second graders of Meadowlark Elementary, however, it was the perfect time.
All together, Meadowlark has about 60 second-graders, divided into three classes. The three classes have been working together since the first day of school on the Lego Education Brick-Building Event for Paint the Town Red.
“This is the first year we’ve held this event,” said Ashlei Bockover, marketing coordinator for the Lego Education Foundation. “We wanted to do something that would bring Paint the Town Red into the community’s classrooms and make the event more relevant to those not at Pitt State.”
Bockover says Lego is a global company but the Lego Education Foundation is located in Pittsburg, and the foundation wanted to do something for the community as part of its participation for this year’s celebration.
The Brick-Building competition was open to all second-grade classes in Pittsburg’s public elementary schools, as well as St. Mary’s Elementary School. Each school’s second-graders worked together to build a three part build on a 15×15 Lego plate.
The theme for the build was “Gus the Gorilla goes to school.” Each class worked on one part of the build. The first class formed its idea of what Gus’ classroom would look like, the second class dished out Gus’ cafeteria and the third class created the playground for Gus’s school.
Besides building, the second graders were also challenged to write stories accompanying their builds. Teachers at each school were provided with a tub of Lego bricks, as well as a booklet from the foundation detailing the rules of the competition and the prompts for the writing component of the competition.
After passing through all three classes, each school presented its build and story to Gus when he visited.
Meadowlark’s second-graders were led to the school’s cafeteria by their teachers to meet their favorite gorilla. Gus inspected their idea of what his school would look like and read their story.
“This started out as a competition between the schools in our community,” said Becky Bedene, principal. “It’s really grown from that to just showing pride for Pitt State and the spirit the Pittsburg community has.”
After the formal presentation, a cheer erupted from the students when Gus and members of the education foundation gave each student a bag of Legos to take home. Bedene then told her students to “put your listening ears on” and gave directions for every student to stand and join together for a group picture with Gus. A chorus of “cheese” echoed through the school as the photos were taken and the kids said goodbye to Gus.
Not wanting to let the second grade have all the fun, Gus visited many of the school’s other classes. Students in first grade showed off gorilla masks they had made in preparation for Pitt State’s first home football game. In return, Gus and Paint the Town Red Chamber of Commerce members invited all the students and their teachers to the Community Pep Rally on Thursday, Sept. 4.
“The students really enjoy having Gus visit them,” Bedene said. “The second-graders were excited about the building competition, but overall the school is mostly excited about getting to see Gus, even though it’s only for a few moments.”
Each school’s build and story will also be displayed at the Pep Rally in Gorilla Village on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 6 p.m. Students of PSU and Pittsburg elementary schools alike will have more chances until the Paint the Town Red kickoff football game Saturday, Sept. 6, to see Gus and get that coveted gorilla hug.

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