LEGO MiniMasters 1: Ecosystem

Kids love LEGO. Let’s be honest. Also, a lot of kids are home from school right now with parents who need to work remotely at the same time. Finding ways to (quietly) entertain kids is probably going to be difficult for a lot of us. So, with that in mind, when I came up with the idea based on my own kid’s recent “I wanted to do it, so I built it” intensity, I thought, “why not try to come up with a daily challenge while we’re all home?” Basically, if I have to write it up for myself and my kiddo, I then decided, “Well, I might as well share them on GeekMom so that if other parents want to use them, they can.” Using the show LEGO Masters, my previous interactions with LEGO Education, and what I know my kid learns in school as my inspiration, I designed this LEGO MiniMasters post series.

What is an ecosystem?

If you need some resources, I found elementary level and middle/high school level sources so that you can refresh your kids’ memories or give them the definitions necessary.

The Children’s Britannica has a great overview definition of ecosystem for kids, if you need to explain what an ecosystem is or want to give your kids some research.

If you’re looking for something intended for older kids, the Khan Academy “Ecosystems and biomes” lesson is a bit more in depth.

You can take the suggested “measurements” and adjust according to skill level.

Design an Ecosystem Challenge: Directions for Kids

With this challenge, you need to design an ecosystem out of bricks and minifigures. Your ecosystem can be anywhere – space, earth, fantasy world– that your imagination takes you.

You need to tell a story about the ecosystem and how the different organisms all need one another.

Planning Phase for Designing an Ecosystem

The first 30 – 40 minutes should be your planning phase.
What does your ecosystem need?
What types of life does it support?
Where is it located?
What is the food chain?
How do the different organisms need one another?
Are there symbiotic organisms?
How do they all work together to support life in your ecosystem?
How are nutrients recycled?

Building Phase for the Ecosystem

This can take as long as you would like. We suggest 40-80 minutes depending on age and complexity of ecosystem.

Your build should include:
The different animals living in your ecosystem and food chain.

  • Herbivores
  • Carnivores
  • Predators
  • Prey
  • Other types of animals to think about:
    • Bugs
    • Worms
    • Bacteria
    • Algae

The types of plant life available for your ecosystem

The types of nonliving materials – water/rocks/soil – in your ecosystem
Where the animals live

Parent Judging Criteria

Creativity/originality:

  • Is this something that exists in real life?
  • What makes this ecosystem “yours”?
  • What did you change?
  • Where is it located?

Design:

  • Visual
    • How did you use the colors?
    • How do the colors support the story?
    • Does it have unique shapes?
  • Construction
    • Was it sturdy enough to make it from the build location to the judging location?
    • Were there any unique construction methods used? (Think, technic in this case or things that moved which might not normally)
    • Height: the taller the structures on the build, the more the child has to plan

Ecosystem elements:

  • Did the build include all elements of an ecosystem?
  • How clear are the ecosystem elements?
  • Can the child explain the elements and how they connect to one another?

Storytelling:

  • How much of the story can the judge see on their own?
  • What is the level of detail
    • If minifigures are used, are they “showing” part of the story by how they’re posed?
    • Are there interactions between the different elements?

If you’d like to share your child’s builds in the comments – please do! We’d love to see them!

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