Multiple Grades STEAM Lessons

Build with Chrome: 3rd Grade+

My kids love Legos. I love Legos. Legos can adapt to be a free building toy or a manipulative for Math, Engineering, or Art. Build with Chrome is a partnership between Google and Lego to create free online 3D modeling through Legos. It does not have every Lego available, but I love the Build Academy challenges and the introduction to working with digital modeling.

In our Digital Arts Mash Up camp at the Smithsonian Associates, Luke Meeken and I have the students recreate objects found in museum spaces. Our camp is in the Natural History Museum. In 2014, we visited the Sculpture garden to examine real 3D art and photograph references. Students were given 2 challenges:

  1. You must recreate a sculpture or feature in the Sculpture Garden, while working with the creative restraints of color and brick variety in Build with Chrome.
  2. You must design and publish a sculpture or feature of your own that you feel should be in the Sculpture Garden.

In 2015, we couldn’t use the same challenge because the World of Build is permanent after publishing. It cannot be edited, saved in progress, or redone.  So we moved on the the other next door neighbor, American History Museum. The Innovation wing and consumer Objects exhibit were our focus. Students were given similar challenges to the previous year, but with recreating a invention they felt was important. We ventured for an hour armed with cameras and most students finished their models in under and hour. Here are a few:

Check it out for yourself by clicking on the World of Build and searching Natural History Museum Washington DC. The Sculpture Garden is to the right and the American History Museum is to the left. 

I plan to try it out with my 3-6 school students this year. If you would like to try it, here’s some tips and need to knows.

  • You can build without “Google Login,” but you can’t publish. I’m going to be talking to my School IT to see if we can use the student google apps. At camp, we did have multiple people logged into a dummy account with mixed results. Having too many people from the same account simultaneously mixed up some things. Keep in mind, this was CAMP and we had parent permission. You should NEVER put your students in a dummy account unless the school approves it.
  • Building and publishing in the World of Build is a 1 time thing. There are limitations being a free online sever hosted program; you can’t save your progress, edit after publishing, or delete (as far as I know) your models after publishing. So, have a learning day and a published project day.
  • The World of Build is monitored and I haven’t had an issue of inappropriate models, but its possible to look at models forever. The whole world is there. Benefit? Learning about maps and navigation on a computer. We can build anywhere in the world, so where will you go?
  • If you have time, Build Academy Challenges can do most of the teaching of the program. You, as a teacher, should do them yourself, and then you can share how it works in free build. I’ve had students go home and complete the academy in one afternoon.
  • It may become an obsession. If you teach Digital Arts or students have access to computers at camp/school, you will find them on it constantly. Just be aware



  • Locations of Historic events: Build a representative object
  • Build a Dream Home in a Dream Location
  • Digital Diarama
  • Pixel Art Gallery
  • School Build: Redesign the School Playground or build Fantasy Playground


Some of my personal builds:


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