Hands-on learning

Hadley Siler, an 11-year-old from Viroqua, works on a Snaps Circuits Jr. project through the Driftless Lego Club.

A group of Vernon County area youths learned more about electricity during the Driftless Lego Club’s Beginning Electronics Class that was held Tuesday nights at the McIntosh Memorial Library in Viroqua.

The classes were centered on Snap Circuits Jr. kits, which are a product created by Elenco, an Illinois-based company, and met weekly in January and February. The kit includes everything users needed to complete simple tasks like turning on a fan or setting off a siren using only AA batteries, circuits and other miscellaneous parts.

Hadley Siler, an 11-year-old from Viroqua, said he enjoyed the classes because it was fun to play with circuits. His favorite project?

“Building the 2- speed fan project,” said the fifth-grader, who is homeschooled. “Because you can make your own 2-speed fan instead of a boring 1-speed fan.”

Ten-year Ozzie Broadhead, a fourth-grader at Viroqua Montessori, said couldn’t decide on a favorite project because he liked them all, and said “there are a lot of interesting things about circuits.”

Rick Lester, founder of the Driftless Lego Club, said the program is one of several being offered to area students in order to get them more excited about science, technology, engineering and math (often referred to as STEM).Volunteers have also been working with Vernon County 4-H clubs, schools and other organizations to help increase STEM opportunities in other areas, too.

Lester said while the programming has proven to be very popular with area youth, it is unlikely to continue unless more adults come forward to assist. Three people have been leading the various Lego Robotics classes to variety of age groups this past year, and a handful of others have contributed to special events.

“What we need now are people who are knowledgeable about STEM and have a passion to teach that to younger people,” said Jason Kiley, a First Lego League Jr. coach.

“We’ll work with people and help them,” Lester added. “We need more assistance if this club is going to survive.”

The Driftless Lego Club formed in 2018 and its purpose is to “inspire and enable the young people of the Driftless Region to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering and math.” One highlight of the first year included a group of students attending a First Lego League tournament in Madison in November 2018.

For more information, contact Rick Lester, Driftless Lego Club founder, at driftlesslegoclub@gmail.com or 608-448-6256.; or visit Driftless Lego Club Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/groups/ViroquaFIRST/.

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