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El Salvador Report: Kids Are Learning with Legos

El Salvador Learning with Legos
The Director of the Democracy and Governance Office at USAID/El Salvador, Adam Schmidt (left), and Jason Landrum (right) at the first technology fair. | FUSALMO

Humans are driven to learn. Humans learn by various methods – particularly by doing.

“Without the opportunity to use a hands-on approach to learning, I would likely have never finished my degree,” said Jason Landrum, 2012-14 Executive Branch Fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 2014-16 Overseas Fellow at USAID/El Salvador.

Landrum believes that kinesthetic learning opportunities will have an immense impact on Salvadoran youth. Through a partnership between USAID and LEGO Education, educators have been trained to use technological tools, including LEGO Mindstorms, to teach basic principles of physics, mathematics, and engineering. Contributions from LEGO and USAID have totaled $50,000 thus far.

“With these types of tools, students and teachers can create innovative solutions that address development challenges encountered in El Salvador every day,” Landrum stated. “On a trip to a local competition, I witnessed hundreds of Salvadoran students gather to present their creations. Machines and robots built to serve a variety of diverse purposes were on display. They were building solutions to challenges they had seen in their community – from solving solid waste issues to building ‘smart’ communities.

Sometimes you just have to do it in order to learn it. Growing up along the Florida coast, I spent hours and hours reading about the physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring in oceanic provinces. But it was my firsthand, kinesthetic experiences using technological equipment that solidified my understanding of how oceanic processes were linked. | Jason Landrum

Through engagement with local communities, Landrum has recognized additional opportunities to broaden the reach of kinesthetic learning tools. “As co-lead of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (STIP) at USAID/El Salvador, I have been working with LEGO and USAID colleagues to expand our partnership across the Mission's other bilateral and/or regional activities.” Landrum hopes that expanding these efforts will improve STEM education and help promote a prosperous, stable, and secure El Salvador for generations to come.