PORT ISABEL — Dozens of students smiled and shouted in excitement as hundreds of colorful Lego pieces fell out of large boxes and onto the table in front of them.

First and fifth grade Point Isabel ISD students participated in STEM-based Lego activities Feb. 20 and 21.

Each student was given Lego pieces, a worksheet and instructions on the basics of engineering.

Ranging from zero feet to as far as 14-feet, each student took turns pushing their Lego-made cars down ramps to see how far they could make them travel.

The activities were led by Children’s Museum of Brownsville personnel as part of annual grants the museum applies for, which results in thousands of STEM field Lego pieces.

“You could see their excitement and feel the energy in the room,” Point Isabel ISD Superintendent of Schools Theresa Ann Alarcon said with a smile. “They were able to share and learn from each other. It was just amazing.”

According to Alarcon, this is the first time the school district has participated in the Lego grant.

She said they are appreciative of the museum for allowing the school district to be a part of the STEM activities.

“Students are able to work and think they’re playing with the Legos, but there is so much of the scientific process and high order thinking that is involved when the students are playing with the Legos,” Alarcon said. “They recreate, re-work and are continuously engaged in rigorous activity, but during all of this time they think they’re just having fun and playing.”

Garriga Elementary principal Reina Salinas sat at a table with a group of students and helped them create their cars.

Salinas said she and the students were excited to participate in the museum’s Lego activities.

“They don’t even realize that they’re learning in the process so it’s definitely a fun hands-on activity,” Salinas said. “Some of them say this is their best day ever and others say it’s hard, but we try to get through it together.”

According to Children’s Museum of Brownsville play leader Danny Euresti, museum personnel have been applying for the grant for about five years.

According to Euresti, museum personnel began the STEM-based Lego activities with Brownsville ISD and were able to get a grant for Weslaco ISD in 2019.

“I love seeing the students get excited about engineering, STEM activities and seeing that spark in them for the first time at this young age,” Euresti said.

According to Euresti, this year the museum was able to conduct the activities with additional school districts such as Point Isabel ISD, Harlingen CISD, San Benito CISD and Los Fresnos CISD.

“We’re thankful every year to get this grant because some kids don’t have exposure to activities that even gets them started in STEM,” Euresti said. “So the fact that we’re able to bring it to the schools makes a big difference in their learning development.”