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LEGO Blocks Find New Home as Part of Peabody’s New Educational Architecture Program

Outgrown LEGO building blocks will now have a place at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology (the Peabody). The new program, “Building Blocks of History: Using LEGOs to understand architecture in the ancient world,” aims to engage participants by exploring the convergence of architecture and history in different cultures through building LEGO structures. First proposed by Ryan Wheeler, Director of the Peabody Museum, the LEGO program will allow people to learn in an untraditional and engaging manner. In the program, the only LEGOs currently available to use are 2×4-hole blocks, forcing the visitors to use a limited set of materials to build their structures. “Struggling through the activity allows the group to discuss and think about how people in the past had to ensure that they would have the correct variety of building materials throughout the entire building process,” said Wheeler. “This type of tangible emotion — frustration — really allows the participants to begin to [experience] what people in the past [experienced], even if it is very limited. This type of connection would not have been possible if LEGOs and creating actual constructions was not a part of the activity,” he continued. During a given session, the staff members running the activity ask participants questions in order to spark conversation and debate about how ancient people created the structures and why they were created, according to Randall. Questions asked by Peabody staff revolve around topics such as materials that were used to build ancient structures, the differences between Mayan and Egyptian pyramids and the structure’s purpose. Randall said that staff members will conclude the activity by asking participants to reflect on their own structures, on the challenges they faced in the design process and on the strategies used to successfully design the structures. During prospective parents’ visits last week, the Peabody Museum conducted a trial run of the new program. The Peabody hopes to continue the program on weekends such as Parent’s Weekend, Grandparent’s Weekend and Alumni Weekend. The next offering of the program will be Saturday, May 10, which is during Grandparent’s Weekend. Randall sees the program expanding to other areas on campus, specifically the Addison Gallery of American Art. “We would love to be able to collaborate with them on something related to this activity,” said Randall. Randall hopes that the Peabody could work together with other groups on campus to explore the “Building Blocks of History.” The program plans to be available to visitors during “weekend events.” The Peabody experimented with the program during last week’s Revisit Days and will hold its next session during Grandparent’s Weekend.