Donations needed for classroom programs throughout District 51 By KATIE LANGFORD

Is there a box of Legos gathering dust in the basement or long-forgotten K’nex taking up space in the closet? The Western Colorado Community Foundation wants them.

The foundation’s Building Blocks for STEM supply drive is an effort to provide classrooms across School District 51 with sets of Legos and K’nex pieces that will enrich science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.

Foundation Executive Director Ann Wenzel said the idea came from meetings with school district staff and teachers. Because kits for new Legos and K’nex run $20 to $200 or more, donating the kits that people already own was a simple way for the community to help teachers and students alike.

“There are so many needs in the schools, but this is a small way that a little bit of resources can make a big difference,” Wenzel said. “We don’t have millions of dollars to rebuild (schools), but we can give little bits that will collectively add up to a significant impact.”

Seventh-grade student Averee Toft uses Legos and K’nex regularly to build models of rockets and cars for MESA club at West Middle School.

“I really like it for competitions, to be able to make a model beforehand,” she said.

West Middle School teacher Heidi Ragsdale sees the benefit of hands-on learning every day in her classroom and in MESA.

“It’s going to help students take their abstract ideas that are in their brains and then be a part of the engineering design process,” she said.

Donations of new or used Legos or K’nex, as well as cash donations, will be accepted through Oct. 29 at the Alpine Bank downtown branch, the MavCard office at Colorado Mesa’s University Center, the John McConnell Math and Science Center, Mesa County Libraries Central and Fruita branches, the Western Colorado Community Foundation, and Central, Fruita Monument, Grand Junction and Palisade high schools.