The man who never let go of Lego

Students Harry Roberts, left, and Alex McKimmie team up to program a Lego robot with the help of program facilitator Andrew Harper… “Kids often ask, is this your job? You get to build Lego every day!”

OBSESSED with using tiny plastic “bricks” to build Parliament House as a kid to making it his day job as an adult, local man Andrew Harper is yet to grow out of Lego.

And why would he?

“Everyone loves Lego,” Andrew says.

“Kids often ask, is this your job? You get to build Lego every day!”

And after entering this new career path around a year ago he nearly does.

“My wife’s a teacher and with some of the catalogues that come through there was one from Lego Education in Melbourne,” Andrew says.

Lego Education works with teachers and educational specialists to deliver playful learning experiences.

“They were going through applications asking if anyone would get involved, outside of Melbourne,” he says.

So Andrew, under the name of Systemic Innovations, did just that.

Systemic Innovations goes to schools in the ACT and Southern NSW running hands-on workshops that align with national curriculum areas such as science, maths, technology and engineering.

The workshops are a combination of using a computer coding program and Lego.

“It’s very popular and it’s very hard to get them to pack up after they finish,” he says.

“We can come in for a lesson and take the stress off a teacher.

“Teachers get in contact with me, then we can sit down and liaise with the school and then go through and do a consultation.

“I also service the sets and make sure all the pieces are there.”

After the consultation it’s about bringing the enjoyment into the classroom as well as practical knowledge.

“It’s actually getting kids to look around their environment to see what can be done with certain parts,” he says.

As a panel beater/carpenter/Lego man, Andrew can see how these programs help kids analyse real-life objects.

“It teaches kids good visualisation,” he says.

“They learn about the coding and the mechanics of it, then together we try to work out, how does it turn? How does it work?

“It’s good for collaboration between the students, it’s problem solving as well. They bounce around different ideas off each other.

“Teachers are often amazed to see that some people can work so well together.”

Andrew says once you see a student overcome an issue it makes it really worthwhile and rewarding for me and the teachers.

Now that Andrew’s life is revolved around Lego he has less time to experiment with his own pile at home, a pile that sits well out of reach from his eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, who have their own separate collections.

Andrew admits that, like most people, he has watched “The Lego Movie” and jokes that he hasn’t used “The Kragle” (Krazy Glue) yet.

Systemic Innovations is at 0425 364662, email admin@systemicinnovations.com.au or visit systemicinnovations.com.au

 

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