BRICK BY BRICK: a Tour and Talk at Brick Ed & More!
A sensory delight, Brick Ed & More, located at 1406 W. Innes St., Salisbury, NC, makes learning fun for the whole family! A few weeks after the Grand Opening this spring, I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at the facility with owner Dr. Shirley Disseler.
We wound our way through stations where individuals of all ages could test their theories and hone their skills at a variety of robotics and mechanical tasks, or even enjoy creation of visual and sculptural art at the “Painting with SPHERO” and “Pixel Art” stations.
We paused by a train and track atop a low table. This station was designed for small children to begin understanding and applying code. They create instructions for the train according to colored rectangles that it encounters as it makes its way around its oval track. Red makes it stop. Blue makes it get gas. Yellow turns its light on.
Cause and effect, sure, but something more…planning, practicing, noticing, and responding to subtleties. Things that require us to slow down, to sit quietly as an answer or an idea alights. The fun is in these exchanges. It isn’t always about an end, but it’s about the entire experience. That’s something that we may learn as little ones, but we often must remind ourselves and practice as our lives unfold in nonlinear and unplanned ways.
Color Coded Train: VIDEO
I asked Dr. Disseler how she played as a child. “Lawyer. Teacher. Large and in charge!” she beams. She explains that she considered law, but that her love is in Curriculum & Instruction Design. She has a Master’s and PhD in these areas. She considers very carefully “what will grab people’s eyes when they come in the door.” She continues, “Everything here was created and built by employees and family,” including Dr. Disseler’s son, Ryan Disseler, who serves as Brick Ed’s Chief Operating Officer.
“We continue to stay open to suggestions from the community,” Dr. Disseler emphasizes. One such suggestion to add picnic tables outside so that families can enjoy lunches or snacks during their visits is already underway.
Dr. Disseler’s Brick Ed ventures began in 2010 when Dr. Barbara Leonard, an assistant dean at High Point University, asked her to participate in a Lego Education Advisory Panel. Dr. Disseler’s training and tweaking led her to create “Come Build with us at HPU” stations at the High Point Mall where young people could begin to understand “the why behind the math.” From those early moments, Dr. Disseler knew she could expand the stations into a business. She was — and continues to be driven — by the question: “How can I get this in the hands of the most kids?”
And by kids, she means those of all ages. “Our tagline is ‘Pre-K to Grave: Igniting the Mind, One Brick at a Time,’ ” she says. Brick Ed has created programming in occupational therapy, memory, color, and construction to be offered to residents as Trinity Oaks in Salisbury and New Health Care Concepts in Kannapolis. In the coming months, Brick Ed and More will host 100 robotics competitions across North Carolina, teacher education in schools, and at the West Innes Street location. Private parties, professional team building, and custom field trips can be arranged. There are adult-only events (Bricks & Beer and Wine & Design), as well as Family Build Nights and Parents’ Nights Out. See https://brickedandmore.com for specifics.
The weeklong summer camps are in full swing now, and available in full or half-day segments. If you do not have a young one to send to camp, consider sponsoring a child in the community who would love to take part in classes, but for whom tuition is not possible at this point. A sponsorship of $249 will cover one child for one week of summer camp.
After my talk with Dr. Disseler, I wandered through the stations one more time. I met Joe and Bailey, siblings who were testing their trajectories to launch small balls from their robot’s pouches into baskets to score points. The children worked together to share knowledge and cheer for each other’s robots. Again, the “point” is not the end, but the experience.
Brick Ed and More invites you to visit! Admission is $10 per child, and free for adults. The goal is for adults to participate with their children—to build and explore and engage together.