One of the great things about the LEGO Ideas platform is that you can see particular projects launched into stardom with lightning speeds. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but considering how this next LEGO Ideas project garnered the coveted 10k thumbs up from other LEGO enthusiasts in just less than two weeks, then ‘lightning speed’ maybe a little bit of an understatement.
The LEGO Ideas Women of NASA is the 7th LEGO community-supported project to enter the LEGO Ideas Review sometime next month. Created by Maia Weinstock (which she goes by the name 20tauri over at LEGO Ideas) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the LEGO Women of NASA is a celebration of the history of women in the STEM field. The project features minifigure replicas of some of the notable women behind NASA, including: Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman, and Mae Jemison. The cool play feature about these minifigs is that they are all faithfully set in their respective fields. In case you’re not that familiar with these rockin’ ladies of NASA, here’s a look at their minifig renditions together with their actual photos.
As a computer scientist at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.
A mathematician, space scientist, and a longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.
Nancy Grace Roman
As an astronomer and one of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.
Sally Ride and Mae Jemison.
A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences. Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.
The proposed LEGO Ideas Women of NASA was immediately noticed by the LEGO fan community and has been warmly received by most science based and general interest sites such as CNET, Popular Science, Huffington Post and The New York Times just to name a few. It even caught the attention of NASA and the UN Women – wow that’s really something!
Weinstock’s project is also the second LEGO Ideas project that features women empowerment in the field of science, following the much welcomed LEGO Ideas Research Institute 21110 which was launched in 2014. However, like any other LEGO Ideas project, the Research Institute was only available on a limited run which makes it a retired product already. The discontinuation of this caused quite a stir within the LEGO community, with the LEGO Group at the receiving end of criticisms, saying that the company was not sincerely promoting women empowerment and gender equality with regard to its selection of minifigures.
Several fans now worry that the proposed Women of NASA set might end up with the same fate like that of the Research Institute. As influential as LEGO is for being one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world, let’s hope that the LEGO Group will figure out ways on how it can actively promote the role of women in the field of science and other occupations. Perhaps LEGO can come up with an exclusive line of sets dedicated to women in various professional fields, or those depicting on high flying adventures.
The LEGO Ideas Women of NASA joins the ranks of Voltron – Defender of the Universe, Spaceballs – Eagle 5, The Addams Family Mansion, the Merchant’s House, the Large Hadron Collider, LEGO Observatory – Mountain View, and Modular Construction Site as the projects that qualify for the Second 2016 Review Stage this September.