Brickmania Brings STEM, LEGO Together In Tampa Bay

A family-friendly event with a focus on building blocks and building bonds is coming to Tampa Bay on March 22, 2014. Brickmania, a STEM education program founded in South Florida, will take place at 2 p.m. on the Carrollwood Day School campus.

Open to all families with students in kindergarten -- eighth grades, Brickmania will feature STEM-centric exhibits, interactive activities, and a LEGO contest.

Brickmania Founder Jennifer Weinman describes the event as "an opportunity for Bay Area students to try out their communication skills and build bonds within our community.''

Through interactive "Brick and Mortar'' STEM-centered activities, kids will be expected to mingle with other students in a fun-filled environment.

"Each year, students can go through an anxious transition time as they enter new situations. Much of this stress and anxiety is caused by unknown social concerns of 'Will I know anyone, and will I fit in?' '' Weinman explains.

She notes that "building bonds'' is an important theme.

"Most STEM careers require team collaboration, where good communication skills are a must. We are giving students a chance to practice this skill in a fun, safe environment,'' says Weinman. "They will build their confidence.''

The event aims to help students learn more about STEM education and careers as they get to know each other. Professors and other professionals will be available to talk with kids about their work in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Event exhibitors already lined up include Microsoft, Syndaver, USF College of Engineering, and USF College of Marine Science. USF professor Dr. Yu Sun and his students from the USF Robotic Perception Action Lab will be exhibiting their "On-Body'' Learning System, a projection game for students to learn about basic anatomy.

"The projection images will move and turn with the student's moving body, creating fun spatial 3D learning,'' says Weinman.

The display highlights anatomy and healthcare careers, "but also promotes engineering ideas that are used in game and medical equipment development,'' she explains.

The day's flagship event will be the LEGO contest.

"Students have amazing imaginations, and the Brickmania LEGO contest is all about imagination,'' says Weinman.

Contestants will be asked to create their entries at home using LEGO blocks and bring them in the day of the event for judging. LEGO creations should be a student’s original design. 

Contest divisions and themes in 2014 include: "How Does Your Garden Grow'' for grades K-2; "Florida'' for grades 3-5; and “The Ultimate Theme Park” for grades 6-8.

To reserve a space in the LEGO contest, forms and fees are due by Tuesday, March 18th, 2014. Forms may be submitted online, mailed, or dropped off in person at Carrollwood Day School. Questions? Email Event Chair Jennifer Weinman.

Brickmania will donate a portion of its proceeds to USF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, a local comprehensive outreach and support program.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Jennifer Weinman, Brickmania

Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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