Build a Duck

This is very quick and fun activity with a deep message. The way it works is that everyone gets the six LEGO pieces shown below, and are then given the following challenge.

The challenge

Using only these six LEGO pieces, and without looking at what anyone else is doing, build a duck.

Build a duck with these six bricks

Teacher notes

I’ve done this activity a few times, with students and with teachers, and usually give everyone about 60 seconds to build their duck. We then collect all the ducks together at the front of the room, and ask them what they notice.

Here’s what a group of students came up with the last time I ran this activity…

A flock of ducks

Here’s another, larger collection of ducks from an event several years ago…

Diversity of solutions

It’s immediately obvious that not all ducks are the same. The variety of ducks that can be made from just six bricks never ceases to amaze me.

Talking with the students about the results, I emphasise that in my class I value and explicitly encourage diversity of solutions.

For example, one student asked if he had to use all six pieces. I don’t recall ever hearing that question before, so I thought that was pretty impressive. I am pleased whenever students are able to think outside the box and push on the constraints of a challenge.

This challenge is is often one of the first I give to me students at the start of the year. I point out that this will probably be that last time I ask them to not look at what the person next to them is doing, “In contrast to what you’ve been taught throughout your years of schooling, in our class copying is not only permitted, but encouraged. Yes, we want to promote creativity and see original solutions, but if you’re stuck, do some research. Have a look around the classroom and see what others are doing. Feel free to search online and see what others have done.”

For what it’s worth, here’s one my favourite ducks…

Down under duck

Useful links…

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Rob Torok

I'm a teacher in Tasmania, Australia, and have been using LEGO MINDSTORMS with my students since 2001. I'm the editor in chief for LEGO Engineering (this site) as well as the content editor for LEGO Education Australia (LEGOeducation.com.au).

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