In-Person and Virtual Classes FAQs

Master Brick Academy HomeMembers Calendar | FAQs about Membership

Frequently Asked Questions
 
Is Class Registration different for the 2020-21 school year than previous years?
Yes, instead of signing up for classes by the quarter or semester and having to remember whether or not you saved your spot, you'll keep your spot from month-to-month and simply pay a monthly fee. You can even create a payment profile so that the payment goes through automatically!  The new method also simplifies periods of "down time" between classes we put into place "in case of" needing make-up dates. We'll still have a couple weeks of potential make-up dates in May, and will slide the schedule as needed, but there won't be as many gaps in the schedule to have to worry about.

What about COVID-19?
We have adapted procedures to incorporate the Five Core Actions: Physical Distancing, Face Masks, Proper Hand-Washing, Cleaning Surfaces, and Staying at Home if You're Sick. Some procedures will change from time-to-time as the situation changes. See our current COVID-19 policies.
 
What program are you offering? What age levels?
The last few years we have grown to offer 3 key "difficulty levels" of our core educational on-site programs:
  • STEAM Builders (K-3rd)
  • Jr Robotics (2nd-5th)
  • Advanced Robotics (4th-6th+)
 
In 2019, we began offering all 3 simultaneously for many class periods. For this year we will do the same, but under the single title "Master Brick Academy" for ease of registration. Our teachers will continue to work closely with each child to ensure they are adequately challenged in a fun, engaging way that is also appropriate for their age and skill level.
 
See Appendix D for a broader overview of Program offerings.
 
Are there different membership types?
Yes. We offer 3 different convenient options:
  • In-Person Membership -- classes at our activity center
  • Virtual Membership -- online classes (pre-recorded and published 4 times a month, approximately once a week)
  • Bundled In-Person & Virtual Classes Membership.
 
For at least the first quarter of Fall 2020, we will not offer programs offsite from Bricks 4 Kidz, but will focus on ensuring safety & healthy practices in an environment we have more direct control over, as well as expanding to offer virtual programs for families who prefer not to come on-site.
 
What are the class sizes?
  • We are limiting all on-site classes to 6-12 kids in order to better socially distance.
  • Due to social-distancing concerns, for the timebeing, we will not accept more than 12 kids in any timeslot.
  • We reserve the right to ask families to select a "second choice" for class periods that have fewer than 6 children. 
  • There is no maximum class size for virtual membership.
 
How do I save a spot in a class time?
Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you are enrolled, you are a member until you cancel, and can continue to keep your spot. Any classes that are full will show as "waitlist."
 
What days and times do classes meet? 
  • We have several available class periods Monday-Friday at varying times. For a complete current schedule of what's available, visit the registration page.
Can I reserve a class time for my group?
  • We allow groups to reserve a time-slot, if there is not already a class during that time, if we have a teacher available for that timeslot, and for a minimum of 6 kids.
 
How do recurring payments work?
  • Our registration system can securely save credit/debit card info and automatically charge your card monthly. 
  • You will receive an email notification 3-7 days prior to any recurring charge.
  • You may also pay with card, cash, or check in-person the week prior to each new "month."
  • For any dates that become blacked-out due to health restrictions or other cancellations, dates and payments will be pushed out accordingly, or pro-rated.
What if I have credit from last spring?
  • Several of our families still have class credit from this past spring.
  • For in-person classes, credit will not be handled on a dollar basis, but on a class number credit. E.g., for 4th Quarter this past school year, if you had 8 classes you paid for that we were not able to have, you will receive credit this fall for 8 in-person classes.
  • For anyone preferring virtual classes, these will be handled on a dollar-value basis -- the amount you paid for 4th Quarter will be applied against the rate of the regular monthly virtual class you select.
When do classes meet?
How do I register my child?
  • Registration is available on our class registration page. Create an account, if you have not already done so, and enroll your child in the desired class time-slot. If the listed start date is a couple weeks out and you'd like to start sooner, call (865) 250-8560 to check for availability and pro-rated fee for current month.
 
What are the prices for In-Person classes?
  • $79/month (STEAM Builder, Jr Robotics, Advanced Robotics)
  • $99/month In-Person bundled with Virtual# without Kit Rental (available October 1)
  • $114/month In-Person bundled with Virtual plus Kit Rental^ (available October 1)
 
What are the prices for Virtual Classes?
  • $39/month w/o Kit Rental (STEAM Builders, Jr Robotics)# (available October 1)
  • $54/month w/Kit Rental^ (STEAM Builders, Jr Robotics) (available October 1)
 
# Advanced Robotics will not initially be available as a virtual class. If you would prefer this option, please let us know as soon as possible.
 
^ Kit Rentals include parts but not the motor & battery pack/hub -- these must be purchased and separately. See Appendix F for more 
 
 
What if I registered for one class time, but need to change?
  • If your schedule changes, simply let us know and we will work with you to select a class that has availability while retaining your membership benefits.
 
How do I cancel?
  • If you need to cancel your membership, you may do so at any time. Subsequent months will not be charged. If you cancel mid-month, no refunds will be issued for classes not attended.  Benefits will end at the end of the paid period.
  • For virtual classes, your access will simply be cut off at the end of the period.
 
What if my child misses a class?
  • Credits and refunds are not given for missed classes.
  • If your child is sick and you notify us before 10am the day of the class, we will give you a credit for the following month's registration.
  • If you have a conflict and would like to select a different day for that week, please check with us for time-slots that are available.
 
Do classes ever get cancelled?
  • Occasionally a class may be cancelled due to weather or widespread illness.
  • In such an event, we will notify families as soon as possible, and adjust the schedule accordingly.
  • Depending on the schedule, we may adjust the calendar, and we push the dates for the next month out a week, with the intention of having as many 4-week "months" as possible, or charge a pro-rated lesser fee for the following month.
What kits are used for the various classes?
  • STEAM Builders -- Uses our Fall 2020 Technic kit. This is a slight update from our 2020 Technic Kit used for classes last school year and this summer (some pieces are being added, and others are being phased out). This kit is not available from any other source than Bricks 4 Kidz Knoxville as we exclusively develop our own models from it. We will use the Power Functions Motor & Battery Pack -- available directly from shop.lego.com, in LEGO stores, Amazon, and in limited availability from our retail store.
  • Jr Robotics -- Uses the same Fall 2020 Technic kit used in our STEAM Builders classes, but most models will use more pieces than what we do in STEAM Builders. Also uses a Powered Up motor, one of the bluetooth hubs from LEGO, and a tablet or smart phone to control the model.
  • Advanced Robotics -- We have used the LEGO Education MindStorms EV3 kit for the past 7 years, and are preparing to transition to its new replacement, "Spike Prime." We have the new kits in, but our teachers are not yet trained on them, so we may begin the quarter with MindStorms models that we didn't get to in 4th Quarter last school year. If it makes a difference to you either way, please let us know before registering, as we will have a better idea closer to August 31st.
 
What pieces are in the Fall 2020 Technic Kit?
Our Fall 2020 Technic Kit is made up of over 200 hard-to-find LEGO Technic pieces that aren't available in a similar kit anywhere else. We purchase these in bulk from LEGO or distributors who work with LEGO. This includes 40 Technic Bricks (LEGO bricks with pin/axle holes in the sides); 24 gears, cams, and pulley wheels; 13 liftarms, 22 axle & pin joiner, connectors, and spacers; 74 axles, pins, and axle/pin combos, a brick separator, a 16x16 buidling plate, and several other miscellaneous parts.
 
Can I just use parts from home for virtual classes?
Unless you've purchased a lot of technic models over time, it's not likely that you'll have everything you need. Some sets that have similar parts and are relatively affordable are: LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox (set 17101) and the LEGO Star Wars (Boost) Droid Commander (set 75253). Even so, having either or both sets will not give you the complete Technic Kit. A smart kid with some creative innovation could build something similar to what we show in our instructional videos, but may still have some points of frustration without the exact pieces readily on hand.
 
How is the "Fall 2020 Technic Kit" different than the "2020 Technic Kit"?
We are adding a dozen more pieces to the kit:
  • 2 more cranks and pin connectors (the pieces we use for the "hand cranked" models -- we're finding these are also great for other functions besides just being cranks!),
  • Adding 6 of the "Pole Reverser Handle" so we can phase out the Axle Connectors we've used -- we find the old style axle connectors just break too easily, and the Pole Reverser Handle is essentially the same piece but with an axle already built in, and is therefore more reinforced from the get-go
  • Also adding 4 of the 2x4 Tech plates ... there are so many models that we'd love to have had something bigger than a 1x4 plate, or smaller than a 2x8 plates, that this just makes sense!
 
How much do kits cost?
Kits will be available for purchase by October 1st.
  • Kit Parts Upgrade & Updated Insert from "2020 Technic Kit" to "Fall 2020 Technic Kit" ($5) 
  • Fall 2020 Technic Kit - Gently Used w/o box ($79) - (STEAM Builder & Jr Robotics)
  • Fall 2020 Technic Kit - Gently Used w/ box ($89) - (limited stock - STEAM Builder & Jr Robotics)
  • Fall 2020 Technic Kit - New w/o box ($99) - (limited stock - STEAM Builder & Jr Robotics)
  • Fall 2020 Technic Kit - New w/ box ($109) - (limited stock - STEAM Builder & Jr Robotics)
  • Power Functions M-Motor & Battery Box (New) $25 (includes tax & convenience fee - we have very limited stock, but you can also be purchased directly from shop.lego.com) - needed for STEAM Builder Level
  • We are planning to make Powered Up Motors, Hubs, and Sensors available for local purchase, but do not yet have pricing.

 
 
Purchasing Materials for Home Use with Virtual Classes
 
Kit Purchase and rental
Our Fall 2020 Technic Kit is exclusive to our facility. Through our Duckingham Design label (Mr. Chris's freelance LEGO model design company) we design all of the models we use. 
 
Families with children taking STEAM Builders or Jr Robotics level classes (K-5th) may rent or purchase the Fall 2020 Technic Kit for personal use. Families may also bundle access to the virtual version of our class to allow their child to continue learning with each week's model at home. For STEAM Builders, families will also need a Power Functions motor and battery pack, available from us or from lego.com or other online sources. For Jr. Robotics, families will need a Powered Up motor and a Hub (there are several different hubs available -- more about that below).
 
We will not have EV3 or Spike Prime kits available for rent -- families would need to purchase their own if desired for virtual classes. Before making the investment, be sure to communicate with us that you would like the advanced robotics as a virtual option, and whether you already own a kit.
 
Power Functions Motor & Battery Pack
We have used the LEGO Power Functions Motor & Battery Pack for the past 7 years in our program. LEGO is slowly discontinuing it, replacing it with the Powered Up system, but the Motor & Battery Pack are still available directly from LEGO and other sources, and still a great product to introduce motorized LEGO building with.
We keep a limited stock of new motor & battery packs bundled for $25 (includes tax +convenience fee -- we can't get them any cheaper than you can)
There are also a number of 3rd party "knock off" motors & battery packs available through amazon, but we do not recommend them as their quality and production are far inferior to the product from LEGO.
 
Powered Up Motor and Hubs
As LEGO transitions away from Power Functions, they are transitioning into "Powered Up" which adds a tablet or smartphone requirement to controlling models. There are a few different "Hubs" available, and a different app for each one. Your child may already have one of these if you have purchased any of the following sets: 
 
Simple Medium Linear Motor - ($12.99+tax+shipping)  https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/simple-medium-linear-motor-45303
 
There are 3 different Powered Up hubs available in various current LEGO kits in the "Powered Up" line, or may be purchased individually from shop.lego.com:
 
For our onsite classes, we will be using the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Hub:
 
We will also use the "tilt" and "motion" sensors from WeDo 2.0 in class. These are not required for the main functionality of the models at home, but for the full experience, they are helpful. If you purchase a kit from shop.lego.com that has one of the Powered Up hubs, it may come with the "Color & Distance" Sensor ( https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/color-distance-sensor-88007). For the virtual classes, we will include how to use this sensor, beside the other sensors, to minimize the number of things you may need to purchase.