Thursday, September 12, 2013

LEGO Chima and Pinewood Derby Party: Sneaky STEM

LEGO Legends of Chima is Ninjago's slightly less popular counterpart; probably because there were only 4 episodes at the time I ran my first program (I did one at the Main library and one at our North branch). Because I'm the luckiest jerk in the world, there are now 9 episodes, the fifth one airing on the day of my first LEGO Chima program. Between the two programs, around 70 people attended, a far cry from my 150 collective attendees at my two Ninjago programs. But, for the amount of time I put into it, I still consider it high-yield.

For the uninitiated, LEGO Legends of Chima follows the exploits of 8 tribes who live in the Land of Chima, where the "life force" Chi gives power to animals to walk and talk and fight with swords. Except that it's not REALLY a life force, because we find out a few episodes in that the animals who never took Chi and are just regular-ass lions and stuff are still around, but they're called "Legend Beasts" because the Chima animals never see them much. Once in awhile the tribes gather and race on Speedorz for some golden orb which is supposed to be better than normal Chi. Also, the Legend Beasts give them immunity because they've never taken Chi and so have no swords or opposable thumbs. In other words, it doesn't make much rational sense, unless you think it reminds you exactly of another show. But they're talking animals, so whatever.

That right there is one of my top favorite videos on the Internet.

While I was planning this program (the wiki was pretty bare so I just watched all the episodes one day when I was sick), I also serendipitously met the program coordinator for the local Boy Scouts. I made the decision to change from 4 stations to two, followed by an EPIC LEGO SPEEDORZ DERBY just like Eau Claire Public Library.

So here's how it went down:
1. Nametag Station: Kids picked their tribe (lion, croc, eagle, or wolf; don't bother with the other ones) and wrote their name on a tag with that Drug Lord tribe member's picture on it
2. Make a Chi Orb Station: Teen volunteers helped the kids make Chi orbs by putting oil, water, food coloring and glitter in a pill bottle (Thanks to Anna at Future Librarian Superhero for this idea-- sorry, she didn't blog about it). At the branch we didn't have enough for all of the kids, so I made it into a think-on-my-feet raffle for them.
3. Sir Punch-a-lot knock down station: this entailed knocking beach balls with pictures of Sir Punch-a-lot taped on them pool noodles to knock them off plastic butter containers. For an extra challenge, older fans were invited to use the robot claws to grasp the noodles before using them.
4. THE EPIC SPEEDORZ DERBY: Because the Boy Scouts needed more time to set up, I kept the Derby a surprise. A program this exciting needed a lot of proactive in-program child management, and I'll write about that separately later, probably. But here's one rule that was employed that made everything run much more smoothly that it would've otherwise: Each child had to put on their wheels last, right before their race, and take them off immediately so everyone had wheels to use. Anyone who disobeyed this rule had to leave the program. Newsflash: no one disobeyed this rule.

Each child made a car (engineering). There was no official races, just whoever got done in time was part of a race. I made sure to announce the tribes that were racing. Kids who won didn't get anything but they didn't care. They were allowed two tries to modify their vehicle after the first race to make it better (logic/experimenting). When they were ready to leave, each child got a certificate with Chima pictures all over it and their name on it.

If you're looking to do a LEGO Pinewood Derby, make sure that you or the Boy Scouts have special wheels. The first time we didn't have them, and luckily it worked; the second time though, the only derby lane available was not equipped for normal LEGO wheels. Something to keep in mind.

Have you ever done a Chima or Pinewood Derby program? What tips do you have?


  1. Did you build the track or buy it? I came across this in looking for Lego birthday party ideas. We went to Legoland over the summer and their favorite part was building cars and racing them.

  2. Hi Brenda! I'm at a public library so we partnered with the local Boy Scouts. A family was happy to bring their track and donate their time. Thanks for reading!