Cynthia Day, of Wyndmoor, helped organize the precedent-setting event this Sunday that is free to all teen LEGO® users. Day is seen here with her son, Robbie, 15, who is holding a spaceship he created out of LEGO®. (Photo by Keith Day)

by Len Lear

It’s a chance for local teenagers to build up their self-esteem while simultaneously building friendships and building robots, spaceships, vehicles and just about any other object that can be built by human hands. The first meeting of the Teen LEGO® Building Group will be held on Sunday, June 30, 2 to 4 p.m., at Springside Chestnut Hill (SCH) Academy, hosted by the school’s robotics team. It will offer an opportunity for teen LEGO® builders to build together in an inclusive atmosphere.

Teen members of SCH’s robotics team will be on hand to help participants make their own creations. Although there will be no takeaways, the group can continue to meet and work toward displaying their work to hundreds of other teenagers at the First LEGO® League competition, which will be hosted by SCH Academy in December of this year.

“People who love LEGO® also love to build with others. It’s a great chance for teen LEGO® fans to socialize with other teens having similar interests,” insisted Cynthia Day, of Wyndmoor, founder of Spectrum FUNdamentals Studio, who helped to organize this precedent-setting event along with Mary Reichley, founding member of the Colonial LEGO® Users Group, and Peter Randall, head of engineering at SCH Academy.

(Formed in 2010 by Day, Spectrum FUNdamentals Studio creates classes where children and teenagers on the autism spectrum can socialize while sharing common interests. It formerly held classes above O’Doodles Toy Store in Chestnut Hill but now is operating on an event-only basis.)

The June 30 event is free and is open to all teenagers, but there is a specific effort being made to include teens with various forms of autism. “My own son has autism,” said Day, 58, “but when he has gone to a LEGO® event, you’d never know it. So I thought it would be great to have an event where autistic kids could meet other autistic kids, and through sharing a common interest in LEGO®, it would be a lot easier for them to socialize. Kids on the autism spectrum are also particularly good builders.

“Since we are working toward a big display, there will be plenty of opportunity for all the kids to provide input and have fun together. We really appreciate SCH’s involvement also since their robotics team will add the element of teens helping teens.”

Mary Reichley added, “This teen group will have a goal of making a great display of work for the December event. We hope to have a number of tables where the teens can really show off their work to hundreds of other interested kids. Events like this already exist for adult fans of LEGO®, but we thought, ‘Why not for kids?’”

(Colonial LEGO® Users Group {LUG} was formed in 2013 as a club for serious teen builders. Colonial LUG members have created “Brick Insanity” at the Lafayette Hill Public Library for children to experience the fun of LEGO® bimonthly. The LUG will sponsor a fundraiser for the library in September which will include a carnival theme, games and a raffle made entirely of LEGO®. A display with the theme of a playground on the fourth of July made by LUG members is currently being displayed in the library’s LEGO® store display box until July 18. For more information, contact Mary Reichley at myzanadu@verizon.net)

LEGO® is a popular line of construction toys manufactured by The Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company’s flagship product, LEGO®, consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, mini-figures and various other parts. LEGO® bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings and even working robots.

Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. LEGO® began manufacturing interlocking toy bricks in 1949. Since then a global LEGO® subculture has developed, supporting movies, games, competitions and six themed amusement parks. One might call LEGO® a sophisticated advance over Tinkertoys, which have been around since 1914.

From their earliest years at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, students learn to become creative designers and problem solvers through an engineering and robotics curriculum that is one of only a few such schoolwide curricula in the country. It may include constructing a LEGO® castle in 2nd grade, designing and manufacturing a marketable consumer product in middle school, etc. More information about the curriculum can be obtained at www.sch.org/robotics

For the June 30 event, teens must register by emailing Cynthia.day@verizon.net or calling 215-805-3094. The event will take place at SCH’s Robotics Lab at 500 West Willow Grove Ave. Parking is on site. LEGO® will be provided for building. Also, anyone who has LEGO® cluttering up their attic is urged to contact Cynthia Day to donate them to her worthwhile organization.