Kids Are Building Robots At The Mall

The mall has always been a place for kids to shop, socialize, and snack.

But kids aren’t just consumers. They like to be creators, too. There should be a place in the mall for that.

Jason Otero has made one.

The Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO® Lab at Ka Makana Ali’i is an extension of Otero’s popular Bricks 4 Kidz after school programs. It’s a gathering place for kids to learn basic engineering principles and build functioning machines — like robots — from LEGOs. Meanwhile their parents shop, see a movie, or just enjoy some quiet time.

Current Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO® Lab Schedule

  • Minecraft Mondays: 5pm-6:30pm. Ages 7+
  • Preschool Play Date, Tuesdays: 10am-Noon. Ages 3-5
  • Bricks 4 Girlz – Girls Only Build, Thursday: 5pm-6:30pm. Ages 7+
  • Junior Robotics, Friday: 5pm-6:30pm. Ages 7+

Why Move From Schools To Malls?

Shopping malls are evolving. Now that online buying is so popular, innovative malls are becoming destinations for family experiences — not just places for families to shop.

Likewise, while kids have thousands of entertainment options online, none of them offer the experience of using their hands (and minds) to create a machine.

What Kids 7 And Up Learn At Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO® Lab

“We start with basic mechanical concepts — a lever, a gear,” says Otero. “We talk about building principles. Then we add in the battery pack and motor, so the kids can see things coming to life.”

At Bricks 4 Kidz, children of different age levels are paired together. They learn from and challenge each other. A 10-year-old, who might be used to following a teenagers’ lead, becomes an “elder” herself when building a robot with a 7-year-old. In-person cooperation is an other impossibility in the virtual world.

The classes are geared for kids aged 12 and under. A drop-in class is $25, or parents can buy blocks of classes for $20/class. The cost covers:

  • The supervision and help of a trained Lego expert,
  • Plus the cost of the advanced Lego sets (they ain’t cheap).

Compare this with the cost of hiring help to watch your kids for 90 minutes. And as Otero points out: “A babysitter’s not gonna teach your kid how to build a robot.”

Photos via Bricks 4 Kidz / Facebook

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