If there’s one toy every STEM fan should have, it’s LEGO. LEGO covers all the bases – it’s fun, it’s educational, and it can be used again and again. Parents love LEGO because it’s reliable and always good quality. Kids love it because it’s cool and they can be as creative as they like. It’s an all-round winner!
Maybe because it’s so popular that people have been quick to find new and interesting ways to use LEGO. While it’s still fun to open a box of LEGO and construct the set according to instructions, there’s so much more you can do with it. We all know that you can pull your LEGO set apart and build a totally new design, but what else can you use it for? How else can you use LEGO to develop STEM skills?
Building things out of LEGO is excellent, but there are lots of other STEM activities you can try.
A quick search of the internet will come up with a multitude of ideas for using the LEGO bricks you already have. Some involve a few extra materials but some will only require your bricks and a bit of imagination. If there’s a particular STEM topic your child is interested in, you can probably find a LEGO activity to explore it further. We’ve rounded up some of the best LEGO STEM activities to get you started.
Related post: Best LEGO Sets for Girls
LEGO STEM Activities
1. Zip Line
Choose a minifigure and send them flying along a zip line in this cool activity from Little Bins for Little Hands. It’s a pretty simple concept but kids will really enjoy it. All you need is some LEGO bricks, a minifigure, and some cord or string. Tie your string between two points, make a little contraption for your minifig to travel in, and send it flying!
It will take a bit of experimentation as your kids work out what slope to make the cord. This activity will involve a lot of trial and error and provide lots of opportunities to talk about things like gravity and tension.
2. Marble Maze
You can make this one as simple or as complex as you like.
Start with a LEGO baseplate and use bricks to make a maze for a marble to travel through. Once your child has mastered that, they could add some obstacles, ramps, or anything they’d like to try to make the maze a bit more challenging. Science Sparks have some great questions you could ask your child during the activity to really get them thinking about the process. You could also try marble races or go vertical and make a marble run!
3. Challenge Cards
An oldie but a goodie and definitely one to try if you want an open-ended STEM activity that encourages your child to get creative.
Challenge cards have a simple LEGO-related task for your child to complete. It could be quick and easy, or more challenging and time-consuming. Go with whatever you think your child will respond to! I like the challenge cards from A Few Shortcuts. They’re easy to download and I like their simplicity (eg. Build a LEGO pizza, build a model of your house, build something that flies), but if your child requires something more challenging, there are plenty of options on the internet for you. Great for a no-fuss activity that doesn’t need any extra materials.
4. Shadow Towers
A great STEM activity for a sunny day and an awesome way to learn about light and shadows.
Have your kids make a tower from LEGO bricks (they could also include other materials) as tall as they like and in whatever design they fancy. Put it down on the ground and use chalk to draw the shadow’s outline. Watch how the shadow changes during the day or alter the tower and explore how that affects the shadow. Lemon Lime Adventures has a great explanation of how their shadow towers turned out. They use LEGO Duplo, but you could use whatever kind of LEGO you prefer.
5. Flat LEGO Challenge
I love this idea and it’s one I’ve never seen before. It would really get the creative juices flowing and turn your LEGO into art materials.
Tell your kids they can come up with any design they like but they can only use a baseplate and their flat LEGO pieces. Picklebums have shared their children’s experience with this activity and I’m amazed at their original designs. They’ve used flat LEGO to make pictures rather than 3D models and I’m super keen to try this at my house! A unique challenge with imaginative results.
6. City Blueprints
This one is messy but well worth it.
Use LEGO bricks to make a gorgeous art print that any LEGO fan will be happy to put on their wall. Art has become an important part of STEM in recent years (many places have even added an A to make it STEAM) so why not use your bricks to design a blueprint for a city? Dip bricks of different sizes into white paint and use them to print the buildings and bridges for a cityscape (blue paper or cardboard works best). Handmade Kids Art has described how they used the activity to talk about how architects communicate their plans to construction workers – a great idea! Warning though: I did this activity with my son and the clean up is hard work.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a good LEGO STEM activity?
A good LEGO STEM activity should involve more than just putting blocks together. Construction and engineering are important, but so is experimentation and exploration. Try new things with LEGO. See what works well and what doesn’t. Creativity is very important so find an activity that involves planning and design. Come up with new creations rather than just follow the standard LEGO instructions. Try using LEGO with other materials or for purposes other than building. Start thinking outside the square a little bit and you’ll be surprised what you can do with LEGO!
What STEM skills does LEGO develop?
LEGO is the perfect resource for developing STEM skills in children. It lends itself to so many open-ended activities and is suited to almost all ages. Building, construction, engineering, and design are the obvious STEM skills that people think of when they’re considering LEGO but it’s effective in so many more ways. Problem-solving skills are often used when children are building with LEGO and it’s also great for working on planning, organization, and design. I love to use LEGO in a collaborative way to encourage teamwork, and it’s also excellent for getting kids to be creative and use their imagination.
What LEGO set should I buy?
This is a tricky question to answer! There are so many options on the market, from standard brick sets to city scenes and vehicles. There are sets based on movies and architecture and more complex sets like LEGO Technic and Mindstorms. Your options are almost endless! Think about what you want from a LEGO set. Do you want your child to follow the instructions and build an exact LEGO model or do you want them to come up with their own designs? Choose a set that will interest your child, but also something they’ll get a lot of use from. After all, the best thing about LEGO is pulling it apart and starting again on a new design! Check out our guide to the best LEGO Creator sets for some inspiration.