Broadcom Community Hero: Xuezhen Wang Used LEGOs to Help Kids Prep for Natural Disasters

Editor’s Note: Broadcom Foundation established the annual Broadcom Global Community Heroes program to recognize civic engagement and volunteer contributions of Broadcom employees throughout the globe.  Each year, the Broadcom Foundation Board of Directors honors these employees with a foundation gift to a qualified charity in their honor. In this series on the blog, we’ll profile each Community Hero to share stories about their interests and work benefiting their communities around the world.

Xuezhen Wang, who hails from Fort Collins, Colo., coaches a Junior First LEGO League at a local elementary school. She helps kids to learn engineering skills using the classic childhood toy. Because Junior First LEGO League projects focus on project-based learning, Xuezhen’s work helps young people understand the importance of strategy, teamwork and collaboration.

Below is an edited interview.Xuezhen Wang

What inspired you to get involved with your current charity?

I attended a LEGO event and saw that the kids were so excited about their accomplishments.  It really got them interested in science, engineering and innovation.  When I learned that there were many kids at my son’s school who loved LEGOs, I decided to start a Junior First LEGO League team so that more kids could benefit from such an exciting and meaningful project.

What surprised you most about your work with the group?

Initially, I thought I would have to give the kids a lot of guidance on working with the LEGO pieces before they could move forward on their own.  But to my surprise, they had their own thoughts right from the beginning. They liked figuring out solutions in their own way. They even brainstormed to generate their own team name: Super LEGOs.

What do you most look forward to when working with the group?

The 2013 theme for Junior LEGO Leagues was Nature’s Fury, so the kids had to come up with ways to use LEGOs to solve problems created by natural disasters. They were so thoughtful, always thinking of how to help others. I enjoyed watching their creativity develop as they worked through plans to help people respond, prepare and recover from natural disasters.

Where do you see the greatest impact in the community from the work this group is doing?

The First LEGO League program gets kids interested in science, engineering, math and innovation from an early age. It creates an environment that encourages children to think out-of-the-box while becoming independent problem solvers and team players at the same time.

Share with us a favorite story about your work. What made the experience so rewarding? 

Several parents came to the first meeting because they weren’t sure how their first-graders would come up with new ideas. They were worried that their children had no concept of natural disasters and wouldn’t know how to research them. But immediately, the parents were so impressed by their children’s independence, they decided they weren’t needed at following meetings. At the end of the project, they were amazed to see their kids’ growth through creativity and team work.

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As they made progress in different area of academia and interpersonal skills, the kids on the team became more and more confident. They made their own poster, which was later shown in at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. At the exhibition, they answered all kinds of questions from the audience. It was so rewarding, and I felt honored to be able to coach them. I’m proud to be part of a community that helps children develop their interests in science, technology, engineering and math.

To see all of the Broadcom Global Community Heroes, visit the Broadcom Foundation website.