Discovering STEM with FIRST LEGO League Jr.

Discovering STEM with FIRST LEGO League Jr.

Discovering STEM with FIRST LEGO League Jr.



Green Mouse Academy (GMA)—a longtime AlphaBEST partner—has worked since 2010 to provide current and cutting-edge technology arts enrichment to AlphaBEST students. Through their team, AlphaBEST students participate in weekly enrichment activities that include coding, robotics, stop-motion animation and FIRST LEGO League Jr. challenges.


FIRST LEGO League Jr. is designed to introduce STEM concepts to kids ages 6 to 10 while exciting them through a brand they know and love—LEGO®. In 2016, GMA and AlphaBEST decided to take a further step to enhance the student experience by implementing a discovery form of the FIRST LEGO League Jr. program as a core Technology Arts experience.


Introducing the FIRST LEGO League Jr. program to thousands of AlphaBEST students located all over the country represented an ambitious challenge—one that had not been tackled to this scale by any FIRST partner anywhere in the world. Through a special partnership agreement with FIRST, GMA was granted not only the rights to develop a customized version of the program, but since then has been contracted by FIRST to provide ongoing consulting and advisory support to help scale the program globally.


Through GMA, AlphaBEST currently leads more FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams than any other organization in the world.


“Having students make decisions and figure out who is going to lead and take on certain roles on their teams is a great opportunity for them to not only gain STEM skills from the challenge, but also life skills,” said Shane Vander Kooi, President & Founder of Green Mouse Academy.


“When they go through the six-week progression, meet their goals and are able to celebrate—it becomes about so much more than the robot or LEGOs.”


The current challenge, called “Mission Moon,” takes basic engineering and programming skills to new heights, and was introduced to AlphaBEST students through a series of maker activities inspired by the STEAM book, To the Moon by Peter and Paul Reynolds.


“We’re always looking to discover or enhance the next cool tool, toy, game or software application that we’ll be able to introduce to the kids,” said Vander Kooi, who says it’s common to see students previously involved in the league come back to mentor other students down the line.


“It’s the practice of having fun while developing 21st century super skills that we believe will help position the young innovators of today for future success tomorrow and beyond!”