Diane Fefferman of Belleville bought into a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise nearly two years ago, because she wanted a career that let her work with children, including her own. Before going into business on her own, she was a park ranger at the St. Louis Arch. Fefferman also is a scout leader.
“I love kids,” she said.
Bricks 4 Kidz uses Lego blocks as teaching tools to help foster kids’ interest in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — in a variety of settings that range from private parties, special events and after-school programs.
Fefferman and her husband Rich are in the process of moving the business to a new locale at 2241 Country Road in Shiloh.
Q. What is Bricks 4 Kidz?
A. “We are an education company. We offer STEM-based programs. We teach those types of lessons and then we incorporate hands-on learning with those lessons using motorized Legos.”
Q. Why did you want to buy into a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise?
A. “I worked for the National Park Service at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial for over 18 years. We worked weekends and holidays and I decided we wanted to have a business where we could work more with our family, our children, instead of having others raise our kids like the nanny or school. They can come with me to my programs. They’re great helpers.”
Q. How do children benefit from your business?
A. “Children love playing with Legos. We can put a learning aspect to that. It’s fabulous because these kids are our future engineers, our future scientists. And if I can inspire girls into that realm, that’s even better. My daughter loves the program, and she’s always thrilled when there are girls in our program.”
Q. Have you been successful attracting girls to these programs?
A. “It’s getting better. Our first summer, we had more boys definitely than girls. I’ve noticed as our business has grown, we’re seeing more girls in the program. The after-school classes, I would say at least a third are girls. In some cases it’s even closer to 40 percent.”
Q. What work do you do in area schools?
A. “Instead of the schools coming to us, we go to where the kids are. We run one-hour sessions once a week for six weeks. One program is about forces of nature. We’re talking about tornadoes, earthquakes, avalanches, hurricanes. We’ll do a quick lesson on the topic of the day and then we get out our Lego building kits and we build. The kids are just thrilled when they’ve completed their project. A lot of our plans reinforce what they’re already learning in school.”
Q. What’s the most rewarding part of running this business?
A. “That moment where you can see a light bulb go on in the kids. You can see their eyes light up and they realize they just learned something new ... They’re very proud of themselves, and that makes me feel good. Kids come in and they do these amazing things and some tell us, ‘I want to do this as an adult; I want to be an engineer; I love building.’ Here’s a way to help them grow that knowledge.”
Q. Plus, what adult doesn’t want to play with Legos?
A. “I know, I love it.”
Job: Director of Bricks 4 Kidz franchise, 2241 Country Rd., Shiloh, 618-218-5590
Outlook: “Children love playing with Legos. We can put a learning aspect to that. It’s fabulous because these kids are our future engineers, our future scientists.”