It didn’t take long after it was introduced in the U.S. for LEGO to catch on among educators. It’s easy to see why. With its simple, colorful blocks, LEGO makes an excellent learning toy. For the last 30 years, the company has had an entire Education division touting the system’s ability to inspire creative, active, and collaborative learning. Since 1998, LEGO’s robot-building software platform, MINDSTORMS, has been inspiring teachers and students to learn more about robotics. LEGO activities can even help encourage social and emotional learning through storytelling and collaborative projects.
Are you a fan of LEGO? If so, you know that the world’s biggest toy company never sleeps. In fact, a number of updates came out of LEGO world this summer. Here are some of the latest LEGO updates.
Celebrating Life Science and Nature
New sets, and a new education-related initiative, kicked off this summer at LEGO. In July, the company debuted its new LEGO IDEAS Treehouse set. Building on the introduction of plant-based polyethylene bricks in 2018, this nature-loving set is a challenge with over 3,000 elements. The model will be available to the public on August 1st.
In June, LEGO expanded the environmental focus, partnering with National Geographic Kids to release new sets in the LEGO Friends line meant to encourage interest in sea life.
Here are the new sets from the Sea Life Rescue series, with descriptions from LEGO:
- Turtles Rescue Mission – Jump into a cool amphibious vehicle and rescue stranded baby turtles from the island. Treat the turtles in the beach side clinic before releasing them back into the ocean.
- Dolphins Rescue Mission – A submersible craft that will take you to rescue a dolphin caught in a shipwreck.
- Lighthouse Rescue Center – Do life-saving research in a lab which features a sea lion play area, rest area, office, and an observation deck with a lamp that can be lit by pressing the lighthouse roof.
- Rescue Mission Boat – Waste no time transporting sick animals in this high-powered speedboat that includes a bay with a launching function, a swiveling crane with a stretcher, and a lookout position.
Looking to the Stars
This summer notably marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the culmination of the space race when astronauts first landed on the Moon. LEGO, a brand associated with science and engineering, didn’t fail to note the occasion.
Earlier this month, LEGO took part in the Apollo 50 Festival on the National Mall hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. LEGO unveiled a life-size Apollo 11 lunar module pilot made from 30,000 pieces, the product of 10 designers and 300 hours of work. People on hand for the occasion got to help build a model of a Mars lander.
That celebration expands upon commemorative events earlier in the year when LEGO introduced an Apollo lunar lander model to their advanced CREATOR line. New sets have also been added to the CITY line inspired by Mars exploration.
Hardware and Software Updates
It’s not just new partnerships and kits. Robotics, one of the most exciting aspects of LEGO in education, also has news.
SPIKE Prime is LEGO’s newest robo-creation, an easy-to-use, all-in-one robotics platform designed to deliver STEAM learning to students in grades 6–8. The new SPIKE kit features a drag-and-drop coding system to make it easy to learn the basics of programming.
It also features a new computer “brick” called Smart Hub, and is made with LEGO Technic pieces in new colors. Available now for pre-order, SPIKE kits will ship early in 2020. You can learn more about SPIKE here.
If you’re ready to jump in when the classroom doors open, check out some of our best LEGO tips and tricks in the posts below.