Pupils use SG50 MOE Lego sets to create own 'futuristic playgrounds'

Pupils use SG50 MOE Lego sets to create own 'futuristic playgrounds'
MASTERPIECE: Minister Heng Swee Keat (in white) looking at the Lego creations of Primary 2 pupils at West Spring Primary.

It may look like these Lego brick sets could be used to build three present-day Singaporean icons: Cavenagh Bridge, Changi Airport Tower and the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay.

But Primary 2 pupils at West Spring Primary School in Bukit Panjang were using the sets to create "futuristic playgrounds" instead.

When the pupils' creations were combined into a large structure in the centre of the classroom, many imaginative features could be seen.

Swings, slides and gardens were common, but some pupils also included structures for bungee jumping and zip­lining.

Form teacher Vivien Tan, 32, said that the purpose of the exercise was for pupils to feel a sense of collective ownership in building the nation.

By piecing all the bricks from individual pupils into a singular creation, she hoped to show the pupils that they were piecing up their future Singapore "as one people".

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced yesterday that the SG50 "Building My SG" set will be given to all students and teachers in MOE primary schools, secondary schools, special education schools, junior colleges, ITEs, and polytechnics by National Day.

Primary-level home-schoolers and full-time Madrasah students will also receive the set, which is gifted by MOE to commemorate Singapore's Golden Jubilee year.

Around 600,000 sets will be given out and fully funded by MOE and the sets have been distributed since the beginning of May.

MOE said teaching packages will be sent out to all education institutions along with the Lego sets.

These packages will include a brief on the sets, but educators have the freedom to come up with ways of incorporating the Lego sets into their Character and Citizen Education or National Education lessons.

Duck Learning, the distributor of the sets, said that the Lego sets will be available for public sale after National Day.

Sale prices are not confirmed, but there will be no differences between the students' sets and the ones available to the public.

Mr Hozefa Aziz, 30, chief education officer of Duck Learning, told The New Paper (TNP) that the individual cost price of each set is around $10. He declined to reveal how much the contract was worth.

He also said that a website (buildingmysg.com) will provide students and parents with more information about the Lego sets.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday visited two Primary 2 classes at West Spring Primary which were using the Lego sets for their lessons.

Primary 2 pupil S. A. Taraasshri prepared a presentation for the Minister: "This is Cavenagh Bridge and it is the oldest bridge in Singapore. It is my favourite bridge."

Other students had different interpretations of the bridge and built floating bridges and characters that appeared to be swimming in the Singapore River.

Asked if they would sell their Lego sets, following a TNP report that some were selling them online, most of the pupils said that they would not, though one admitted he would trade his set for $20.

UNIQUE

When asked about such online sales, Mr Heng said: "This is such a unique keepsake. I encourage all students to keep this because it will be something very special, that they can look back on."

He said that the aim of the gift was to present every child with something memorable and also to encourage them to build and imagine a better Singapore.

"Getting our students to do this is a very appropriate method of how we want our children to come together to construct Singapore piece by piece, brick by brick, to build a better future for themselves," said Mr Heng.

PLAY AT SCHOOL

Children were having fun building sandcastles, throwing paper balls and climbing on the playground.

It is not the June holidays, but play forms an important part of a West Spring Primary School pupil's everyday school life.

The school runs Play (Purposeful Learning Activities for the Young) programmes as part of its curriculum. Play has only Primary 1 and 2 pupils in its programmes since it started last year.

Co-form teacher Maria Zahid, 42, said that Play uses unconventional teaching methods that are interactive and helps young children to learn through creative play.

When Minister Heng Swee Keat visited the Primary 2 classes, he asked the pupils if playing with the Lego bricks made them more interested in building bridges and engineering.

"It does not just encourage interest in engineering but also in other subjects such as Art, English and National Education," said Madam Maria.

ARTISTIC For example, designing the futuristic playground can involve the student in artistic creation and help teach them about instructional language in English lessons, added Madam Maria.

Mrs Tan also said that West Spring Primary School has a "Lego curriculum" - play session with Lego bricks every Thursday - and the new Lego sets are a helpful addition to their classes.

"The Lego sessions open meaningful opportunities for the students to learn history, think of the future of our country as well as look at the continued progress of Singapore," she added.


This article was first published on May 14, 2015.
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