Finding the right bricks for lessons is not an easy task. While LEGO does provide specific education sets for schools and teachers, some may wonder if the higher price tag is worth it and what’s the advantage over a random bucket of bricks? Recently we’ve acquired a few LEGO Education Simple Machines Set #9689. The set consists of 204 pieces, four printed build guides, top tray, and the plastic bucket. The parts included consist of Technic and other basic pieces that are meant to teach kids age 7+ about gears, wheels and axles, levers, and pulleys; basic physical science concepts. The set is around $80cdn, and if you do the math, the cost per piece is approx. $2.55; This is a steep price per piece if you are familiar with brick economic. However what you are paying for is much more than the pieces and maybe more worth it than you think. Here’s why:
One of the first thing you will notice is the study bucket and tray that comes with the set. Anyone who has tonnes of LEGO at home will know the headache of brick storage. The Simple Machine Set makes it easy to sort, store, and transport. No more random buckets and insecure carrying cases, the bucket and tray are solid and can help promote sorting activities for your kids as well. The set also comes with a printed part list/legend in case you need to audit your sets for missing or broken parts.
Less is more. Creative problem solving is often done best with restraint and this set’s small number of parts while seem restrictive provides an abundance of learning possibilities. LEGO has carefully selected the most needed parts for its purpose which means kids spend less time digging around looking for random parts and are more focused on function over form. It’s true that you may not create the most appealing MOC, but the point of this set is to discover and learn the various mechanical principles that can help kids in their creations at home.
Even though there are only four printed guides in the box, LEGO’s education websites provide, free of charge, another 325mb worth of content for you to teach with; That’s an additional 20 activities for your class or kids! The activities are also designed for two children per set which mean opportunities for kids to work socially with others in their learning. Even after you have exhausted all the premade lesson plans, there are potentials for teachers and parents to create new ones.
This education-focused set, while it's expensive compared to other theme sets, is one we find worthwhile for families as well. Being below the $100 mark makes it easier to justified for families, and yet it provides much more directed and educational play. If you would like to see this set in play, you can check out the lesson plans using this set or sign up for the upcoming workshops!