Early this morning, the LEGO Ideas team announced the results from the second 2016 review and Maia Weinstock’s Women of NASA has been selected as the next LEGO Ideas set!
Maia has a remarkable pedigree when it comes to being a science communicator, she’s an accomplished science writer, deputy editor of MIT News and now, part of the exclusive club of people who will have their designs turned into a real LEGO set.
Women of NASA, as its name suggests is a celebration of 5 notable NASA pioneers, Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman and Mae Jemison – titans who have contributed so much to space exploration and astronomy.
The success of this set being greenlit was probably bolstered by the recent success of Hidden Figures, a critically acclaimed movie about African American mathematicians at NASA.
You can read her 10k Club interview on the Ideas blog to find out more about Maia.
The set is designed to provide an educational building experience to help children and adults learn and develop an appreciation about the historic and monumental contributions of these women to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields, which has historically struggled to accept women.
There are no details yet of what the final design will look like, and the release date for the Women of NASA set will be in late 2017 or early 2018.
This set will go incredibly well with the upcoming Apollo 11 Saturn-V rocket set which is expected to go on sale in mid-2017. The Old Fishing Store is set for launch in Autumn (northern hemisphere) 2017, in case you were wondering.
The results don’t particularly come as a surprise, as some of the other 10k projects in this cohort were a little unrealistic, although I was really hoping for Voltron to make the cut.
For those of us who were rooting for Voltron, there’s a bit of good news. The LEGO Review Board is still considering the Voltron set and we’ll get an update on that when the third 2016 review results are announced, which will be sometime in Summer (northern hemisphere).
This is probably code for, “we’re still negotiating the license” and is quite positive news as it’s not an outright rejection. If you remember, the Doctor Who Ideas set also had a protracted negotiating period, and that turned out quite well.
I really love the vignettes, especially this iconic recreation of this photo of Margaret Hamilton, the lead software engineer of the Apollo 11 mission, which placed humanity on the moon. The stack of papers is the handwritten code that also pioneered the modern concept of software.
Frankly, I’m appalled by some of the comments I’ve read on other LEGO news sites and in some Facebook groups, which is why I think this set is so important. Sure, it may seem quite similar to 21110 Research Institute which suffered from availability issues, so not everyone managed to get one unless you were lucky enough or paid aftermarket prices.
Let’s also be real here – there is a well-documented & systemic problem about the acceptance of women in STEM and getting young girls interested in the field. This set may not ultimately solve the issue, but it will certainly help move things in the right direction.
This is particularly personal to me, given that I have a young daughter, who I hope will one day be able to pursue her dreams in whatever profession or field of interest she desires, without having to deal with the invisible barriers that so often pop up in certain professions.
Sure, people may critique the build saying that it’s boring, uninspired and only an incremental upgrade to the Research Institute, but I think this small subset of vocal LEGO fans are pretty selfish and fail to realise the educational value that a set like this can offer to children.
News flash, LEGO is and will always be a toy, first and foremost.
A long, long time ago, before LEGO became an edgy and “cool” adult collectible, LEGO used to be synonymous with learning. I think this set will be really important for parents who want to expose their kids to STEM and will act as an excellent learning tool.
I’m mostly only familiar with Margaret Hamilton, and had to look up the other 4 women to learn a bit about them, which was pretty damn interesting.
Imagine this very scenario extended to young kids and parents taking the time to not only build this set with their kids, but to also explain who these women are and why their contributions were so important to space exploration and astronomy.
This, and the upcoming Apollo 11 set are probably going to be the most educational LEGO sets on the market this year, and we need to be celebrating this return to form.
Sure, this set is definitely not going to appeal to your basic “I only collect UCS and Modulars” AFOL, but it doesn’t have to – that’s the beauty of LEGO in 2017 – there’s something for everybody. And that’s worth celebrating.
I’m going to get at least two copies of this set – one for myself to build and enjoy, and I’ll save one for my daughter. Maybe one day, she’ll come to me and ask “Can I become an astronaut?” or “why are all the NASA people in the movie men?” – in which I’ll proudly pull the Women of NASA set out and tell her that her gender will not stand in the way of achieving her dreams.
Watch the announcement video here. Just don’t read the Youtube comments.
On to the next review results – 12 projects have hit 10,000 supporters. There are quite a few winners in this one – I think the 1950s Diner has the strongest potential, but I’m also equally hopeful about Ship in a Bottle and The Iron Giant.
Let me know what you think of the Women of NASA set or which projects are you looking forward to in the next review results!