Every other Thursday at 5:30 p.m. the South Boston Public Library bursts with activity as Halifax County elementary and middle school students gather for the AmeriCorps After School Lego Club.

Launched this fall by Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) AmeriCorps Member Vashunda Richardson, in partnership with the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library, the Lego Club gives third through sixth grade students an opportunity to exercise their creativity while developing their engineering muscles.

Using free builds and design challenges like constructing a pyramid or building the tallest tower, the Lego Club allows students to tackle basic engineering problems and hone their design thinking. Because there are no right or wrong answers, students are free to make mistakes and test ideas.

“I started the Lego Club to introduce children to STEM concepts and pre-engineering challenges. I hope the students’ interest in Legos will lead them to exploring even more STEM subjects and activities,” said Richardson.

Lego Club members work individually and in teams giving students added skills in communication and teamwork. The after-school club attracts a diverse range of students from different schools who are of different backgrounds with varying skill sets.

“The Lego Club has been a wonderful tool for helping students increase their communication and social skills. It’s been a rewarding experience to see some of the club members come out of their shell and blossom in this environment,” Richardson said.

The demand for the Lego Club has been great. When the club was announced, more than 40 students signed up, and Richardson added a second session to accommodate the growing numbers. A waiting list remained, but Richardson plans to accommodate those students when she offers the club in the spring. She also is working on a spring one-day Hour of Code opportunity for area schools.

“I want to thank all of the individuals and businesses who donated Legos and supplies to make the Lego Club a success. I also have to offer a special thank you to Jay Stephens and Robert Rosenthal for allowing the Lego Club to meet at the South Boston Library,” Richardson said.

Individuals interested in learning more about the AmeriCorps After School Lego Club, including ways they can start a club in their school or community, are invited to contact Vashunda Richardson at vashundarichardson@svhec.org or 434-572-5480.

AmeriCorps members serving at the SVHEC is made possible through a partnership with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville in the Dan River Year Program.

The Dan River Year Program places STEM AmeriCorps members in a community-supported environment to build capacity in the region, strengthen community involvement and address pressing needs.