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Keeping creativity and math skills sharp with Lego bricks

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Dr. Shirley Disseler is helping teachers loosen up in the classroom.

“There's a creativity crisis in America right now,” Disseler said.

Disseler is chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education at High Point University.

She is also the STEM Coordinator for the undergraduate and graduate programs in HPU’s School of Education.

She recently published the first title in a 10-book series on using Lego bricks to teach math to elementary and middle school students.

“I tried it out with about 600 kids in classrooms around High Point and Guilford County and the kids were really ecstatic about learning math, which is something they're not on a daily basis,” Disseler said.

Disseler says the bricks not only offer an opportunity to make learning in the classroom fun, but because Lego bricks are commonly used as toys, parents can easily do math exercises with their children at home.

“The studs on the bricks offer a real opportunity for counting manipulation,” Disseler said.

She developed HPU’s STEM camp.

The camp is a nine day program giving rising third graders through sixth graders hands-on experience with science, technology, engineering and math related subjects.

Graduate students teach the children during daily activities and encourage them to approach assignments in a unique way.

“They all have the same instructions, but they're doing it in a different way,” Taylor Niss, an HPU graduate student said.

Jackson Kiser, 11, is attending the camp and says he has a passion for engineering -- the “E” in STEM.

“In my free time, I just love to build Legos,” he said.

At just six years old, Kiser built his own robot.

“You don't just have to go off the manual, go off with your own creativity,” Kiser said.

Disseler’s first book, “Teaching Fractions Using Lego Bricks” is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble online and Compass Publishing.