Lego and NASA Build a Partnership for Education

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Photo: NASA/Jack Pfaller (public domain)

Could there be anything more likely to elicit joy in geekdom than the combination of Lego and space travel? Well, all right, perhaps if there were news that Wil Wheaton was getting a role in The Hobbit and that Adam Savage was building the props. This news does not perhaps rise to that level of epicness, but it does have the advantage of being true.

It has been announced that Lego and NASA have officially embarked on a three-year partnership to help inspire kids to be more creative and to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math (as part of the government’s STEM initiative). For the first project — set to be part of the STS-134 mission in February, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) will build objects live on a video feed, while schoolkids build similar objects, so the students can see the differences in how objects behave on Earth and in space.

There are two Lego space shuttles on board Discovery for STS-133, whose launch has been delayed until at least November 30. According to NASA, the Lego shuttles “are expected to stay in their lockers, but astronauts may pull them out during the mission if they have time.”

One particularly exciting piece of news in the press release:

LEGO also is releasing four kits to the public based on NASA spacecraft and missions. Rather than being a part of a line of science fiction or fantasy toy kits, though, the NASA sets are being marketed as part of the company’s “CITY” line, which calls on kids to build things that are part of everyday life.

They’ve already released the space shuttle model (the same as the ones on Discovery for the upcoming mission). I can’t wait to see what they come out with next. As much fun as it is to build Harry Potter and Star Wars Lego sets with my kids, there’s something more satisfying about building a model of something real but also geekily cool.

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