LEGOs are spilling out of the toy chest and into Coney Island classrooms.
Kids from grades four to 12, representing three neighborhood public schools, celebrated the Cyclone roller coaster’s 85th birthday on the Boardwalk on June 28 by unveiling their impressive school project — a massive, robotic replica of Luna Park built almost entirely of LEGOs.
Tots from PS 188, adolescents from IS 303, and young adults from John Dewey High School participated in the LEGO Education program — courtesy of a $5,000 grant from the venerable toy company — in which each school contributed to the huge, moving replica that featured the Parachute Jump, Deno’s Wonder Wheel, and the Cyclone, whose tracks were actuallly made of authentic Boardwalk timber.
“The kids actually used pieces of wood [the city] ripped up off the Boardwalk,” said Scott Krivitsky, who teaches at PS 188. “It makes our Cyclone that much more authentic.”
As good as the kids’ project looked just sitting there, though, it was truly impressive in motion.
“This is not just a LEGO project,” said Krivitsky. “The Ferris wheel is powered by various mechanisms. You look at the picture and it’s great, but these things actually move.”
The Coney Island LEGO program was designed by Krivitsky to teach kids math and critical-thinking skills, along with the history of the People’s Playground’s amusements and business.
“There’s a tremendous need in Coney Island to get students more involved in learning,” said Krivitsky. “It ties in social studies, math, arts, and all three schools molded this project together. It’s a symbol of the family of Coney Island. There’s too much segregation in terms of business, education, and amusement, and I’m trying to bring all of that together.”
It’s also a bunch of fun.
“It’s not the SAT. It’s not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question and, in the end, they built something,” said Krivitsky. “They’re so motivated. I guarantee with this approach, there will be less behavioral issues, less bullying, and it gives students a real sense of empowerment.”
But the kids weren’t the only ones on the Boardwalk to celebrate the Cyclone’s birthday. Courier Life columnist Lou Powsner was on hand to marry Ms. LEGO to Mr. LEGO, in symbolic gesture of solidarity between the Coney Island schools and LEGO.
“I’m not legally able to marry someone,” said Powsner, “but a lot more illegal things have happened on the Boardwalk.”Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn