Let me preface this post with a confession that I love Lego. I don't mean in that whimsical way we recall childhood toys, I mean I really think it is fantastic. I have indoctrinated all the kids in my family and my neighbours' kids. Like many people, I have used lego in my Geography lessons before, particularly in topics that involve urban planning, housing density or designing a practical solution to an environmental problem. The students love learning through play, and it is a great way to encourage creativity, particularly for boys who may not like expressing their creativity in some of the more common ways. However, collecting a stash of lego big enough for a whole class can be a challenge. In the past I have had groups of students bring in some of their own, asked for donations from students and parents or looked for cheap bulk lots on eBay.
8 Geography - Plastics in our Oceans
There have been two news articles circulating in the past few weeks which make great material for lessons in Geography. Firstly, there has been an article circulating about lego pieces washing up onshore in Cornwall following a freak wave which dislodged cargo containers including one containing nautical themed lego. The incident is great for Geography lessons across a number of years and topics. It could enable discussions on ocean currents, the time it takes for plastic to breakdown, corporate responsibility, global commons, and plastics in our oceans.
See Why lego keeps washing up on British beach
The Plastinography site explores how plastics enter the oceans, where plastics come from, impacts of plastics in the oceans, ocean currents and movements of plastics globally. The interactive website contains informative pop-ups, links to youtube clips and environmental messages. The site was created by Dr Erik van Sebille, Jennifer Halstead and Chloe Vandervord at UNSW Australia. This is linked to Adrift, a website that allows users to examine how debris travels across oceans by way of ocean currents.
Another interesting perspective on this issue is to look at the role that social media has played in recording information about pieces washed ashore. There is both a Facebook page devoted specifically to the collection of the Lego pieces, while a local Cornwall group has a Twitter and Instagram hashtag #2minutebeachclean to post images of all rubbish collected from shorelines. This would be a great way to tie the two main topics in Yr 8 Geography together: the process of globalisation and forms of communication with some of the topics like global commons and waste management.
8 Geography - Shell and Lego
The other news article that has been circulating in the last few weeks has been Greenpeace's campaign to encourage Lego to break its contract with Shell. Lego and Shell have had a long association. I remember as a child inheriting my older brothers' Lego which contained some Shell-themed pieces. More recently, Lego has distributed Shell-branded toys through Shell's petrol stations in a number of countries. Meanwhile Shell has been receiving bad press regarding attempts to drill for oil in the Arctic. Greenpeace claims that the partnership is an attempt to create positive publicity for Shell, brainwash children and create brand loyalty.
See Greenpeace urges Lego to end Shell partnership
Classroom discussions could include issues such as corporate responsibility as it extends to associated companies, the role of the fossil fuel industry in global warming, benefits of global warming for the fossil fuel industry, the role of NGOs.
See Good news for the Arctic - Shell Scraps Drilling for 2014
Again, the role of social media has been really interesting in this issue. The tweet below (reproduced with permission) is just one example of thousands that have been circulated on twitter using the hashtag #blockshell. There are many interesting activities students could do - examine different perspectives, examine profile information about people posting, research NGOs posting, or map where the tweets are originating.
Lego as a Business Studies case study
Lego is also a great case study for Business Studies. Below is the Lego Megafactories episode which looks at the manufacturing process for creating lego pieces. There are also a range of resources available related to marketing and innovation. The Lego Case Study website contains information on the Operations, Marketing and Finance topics. The issues described above would also be great discussion starters for looking at corporate responsibility.
Examine the Lego Case Study website.
Innovation a turnaround at Lego
Lego profits soar as it targets girls
View the Trinity Grammar Lego resources for Marketing.
Move over Barbie: the cool kids are playing with Lego palaeontologists (thanks to @Geogdon for this one)