This paper describes the development of a Create-a-Lego-Engineer (CALE) activity which was created as an alternative to the Draw-a-Scientist (DAST) and Draw-an-Engineer Tests (DAET). While the DAST and DAET examine students’ (mis)conceptions of scientists and engineers, they provide limited information about whether students can envision themselves as scientists or engineers now or in the future. We drew from the Lego Serious Play (LSP) method which is grounded on the premise that hands-on learning results in a deeper understanding of the world and oneself in it. The LSP method is a process used to enhance innovation and business development, and it involves adults building metaphorical representations of their identity using Lego bricks. We adapted this process for use with elementary students (3rd-5th grade) in a specific context, namely students are asked to build themselves as engineers and a scene depicting what they would be doing as an engineer. Lego bricks were chosen as they are familiar to most students, are easy to use even without prior experience, and require no special skills or artistic abilities. The activity allows us to explore students’ creations of physical representations of themselves as engineers, including issues related to gender and physical characteristics (e.g., skin color, hair color and style), all of which students can customize using a variety of Lego options. Students are provided with a variety of Lego person pieces in order to try and build a representation of themselves using Legos. Additionally, a wide variety of Lego brick pieces were provided in order to allow for numerous ways in which students might represent engineers doing engineering work. Students were asked to imagine themselves as engineers and then to create their Lego engineer. Next, on a notecard, they described the type of work their Lego engineer would be doing, at which point they were then asked to create this scene using Lego bricks. Finally, after completing their creations, students reflected on the meaning of what they built and verbally described their creation and the choices they made. While these reflections provide additional insight into students’ beliefs about who can be an engineer and what engineers do, they also provide students an opportunity to imagine and see themselves in the role of an engineer. This activity was developed within the context of a multi-year, NSF-funded research project examining the dynamics between undergraduate outreach providers and elementary students to understand the impact of the program on students’ engineering identity and career aspirations. This paper will describe the development of the activity as well as preliminary findings from pilot testing and use with elementary students participating in the overall research project. Potential implications and limitations will be described.
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