My experience with the LEGO Camp began in 1996 when the LEGO Company
first created their robotic sets. Before the robotics I was still
involved with the basic LEGO building sets, everything from space age to
westerns. I enjoyed the LEGO camp so much that I went to it multiple
times. A picture of me can be found in the May 1996 portion of the
LEGO website. I am the kid in the blue sweat shirt in the very front
that is turned away from the camera.
As I went through middle school and high school I forgot about my time in the LEGO League and the critical thinking skills I learned. This was sparked again by Marshall University's Exploring Engineering Academy of Excellence which I attended in 2003. Then the critical thinking skills came back to me. As my group won the trebuchet challenge, using a design I made out of LEGO materials a few years earlier, it became clear what I wanted to do after high school; go to college to get a degree in Engineering.
I went into Marshall's pre-engineering curriculum, bouncing between Chemical and Mechanical Engineering, starting Fall 2005. There I saw LEGO robotics again. One of our final projects in my ENGR 107 class was to design and build a robot made of LEGO materials and program it using basic C++. I was the group leader because I had done most of this before in the LEGO camp many years before. My group won first place in all the challenged that our robot faced and I received an A in that course.
Though there are many twists and turns in my story and bouncing from what field of Engineering I wanted to go into, almost annually, I goal of becoming an Engineer never changed. Now May 2010 I received my Bachelors in Engineering through Marshall University's College of Information Technology and Engineering. Through my 5 year college career I used the logic skills I learned using LEGO materials those many years ago as the foundation of learning what I needed for engineering.
Now, volunteering for the LEGO city while I wait for my career as an Engineer Trainee for the West Virginia Department of Highways to start and helping some schools with these challenges I faced years ago, I see myself in many of the kids. Looking back I cannot express how helpful the LEGO activities were in improving my critical thinking skills. Is every kid that goes through this program going to be an engineer or a math genius? Obviously no, but I am confident that because of this program that many of these children will be more successful in life because of the critical thinking skills that they will learn through the LEGO activities.
David Charles Chappell
May 24, 2010