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The Lego Brick Build: An Annual Goodnight Scholars Event

The Goodnight Scholarships office is known within North Carolina State University for their mission: “pay it forward”. This mission, proposed and achieved by Jim and Ann Goodnight, the founders of the program, serves as a goal when planning events through the Goodnight Scholarships office that scholars often participate in. One of these events in particular hopes to foster future STEM leaders throughout the younger generation of students in the Raleigh area. This event is called the Lego Brick Build!

Lego Brick Build is one of the scholarship’s STEM outreach activities. Working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County, scholars and staff of the Goodnight Scholarships office collaborate to create this fun event that in hopes will inspire young children to become future STEM leaders themselves. During this event, children from six different Boys and Girls Clubs within Wake county are invited to visit NC State’s campus for a day to participate in STEM activities. These STEM activities involve building structures with legos, hence the name Lego Brick Build.

This year in particular, the theme of the event was transportation. Students were building objects like cars, boats, trains, planes, and even bridges for their lego transportation systems to go across. During the event, staff and scholars made sure that the children understand the background of transportation systems and how they work. To keep the children engaged, there were challenges with many of the activities including adding weight to make sure their structures could stand, building the structure in a way that allowed it to move, or even creating something that can fly and be held by a zip line!

The purpose of this event is to have Goodnight scholars and staff engage with the local community and to create partnerships outside of the university. Some of the students coming to this event may not have the privilege to be exposed to many STEM activities, making the Lego Brick Build a wonderful opportunity for them to get excited about STEM! 

Sierra Smith, an assistant director of Goodnight Scholarships, coordinated the Lego Brick Build this year. One memory of this event that sticks out to her in particular was when a student made the best lego train she had ever seen. Not realizing that he made anything special, the student became excited when he saw how impressed the scholars and staff members were at the structure and design of the train he built. Memories like these of the event can be described by Sierra as “the most chaotically fantastic time”. Children during the event are running around, being expressive, dancing to music, and enjoying the moment, all while learning about STEM. Sierra says that “it is inherently a wonderful, giving experience in which both sides get something from it”. She describes the happiness on not only the children’s faces but also the scholars’ faces as they collaborate and learn together.

Within the Lego Brick Build, there is potential to expand it beyond Wake County. Regardless, this event creates a bond between scholars, staff, and Boys and Girls club students that they are likely to remember for years to come. The event also gives young students an opportunity to become interested in STEM, a field that is always in need of creative minds like those that attended the event. Sierra Smith and scholars look forward to planning the event for years to come as they learn more about how to get students more engaged in the STEM activities!

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