Building the City of Austin with the Thinkery

On June 14th, we partnered with the Thinkery, a creative space for families to experience the magic of science, for their community night. We had an amazing time building the city of Austin out of over 40,000 LEGO® bricks with local families. We included the Thinkery building and the iconic Frost tower in our city build. It was four hours of excited kids ready to create the city of Austin!

KVUE Austin even came down to cover the building of LEGO®-inspired Austin.

Press Advisory: Creating the City of Austin out of 40,000 LEGO® Bricks at The Thinkery

On Wednesday Night, June 14th, 2017, Play-Well TEKnologies will be collaborating with the Thinkery to build the city of Austin out of 40,000 LEGO® Bricks.  Families will get the opportunity to build the city of Austin as they would like to see it.  They also get to tackle these questions through play:

  • If you had the chance to design the city of Austin, how would you design it?
  • What else would you add to the city that you currently think is missing?
  • How would you make Austin even better than it is now?

Building The City of Austin out of 40,000 LEGO® Bricks takes place during Thinkery’s special Community Night hours (Wednesdays from 4–8 pm), when admission to the museum is by donation—meaning families are able to pay what they can. The suggested donation is $1.

Thinkery strives to provide a friendly, inspiring space to learn for the entire community, regardless of financial status. By providing experiences to underserved audiences, the museum broadens its ability to equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers.

For information about Thinkery and its Community Night program, please click here.

For information about Thinkery’s STEAM on the Spot program, please click here.

Here are the details of the event:

Event: Building The City of Austin out of 40,000 LEGO® Bricks

Location: The Thinkery, Austin Children’s Museum, 1830 Simond Ave, Austin, TX 78723

Date & Time: Wednesday, June 13th, 2017 / 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thinkery Contact:Taylor Grobelny, tgrobelny@thinkeryaustin.org.

Play-Well Contact: Miranda Urban, miranda@play-well.org

Thinkery

Thinkery is an evolution of Austin Children’s Museum. It’s Austin’s home for “why” and “how.” A place where science and families play side by side. Where people connect with ideas by doing, making and experiencing. It’s a foundry for a new generation of innovators and creative problem solvers. And it’s a heck of a good time.  For more information, visit thinkeryaustin.org.

Play-Well TEKnologies

Play-Well TEKnologies teaches LEGO-Inspired STEM Programs to approximately 100,000 kids/year around the U.S.  Their goal is to inspire the next generation of engineers, innovators, scientists, and inventors all through the power of play.  Kids dive into our classes and exercise their innate gift for building. They come away understanding fundamental principles of engineering and physics. The experience boosts their confidence, creativity and ability to collaborate.  For more information, visit play-well.org.

Examples of city builds in other states:

 

Building The City of Honolulu out of 20,000 LEGO® Pieces

On Saturday, June 3, 2017, Play-Well TEKnologies and the Hawaii State Public Library will be collaborating together to create an opportunity for families to build the city of Honolulu out of 20,000 LEGO® Bricks.  Families will have the opportunity to create Honolulu, as they would like to see it.  They can construct the library, downtown Honolulu, their own home, school, playgrounds, parks etc., all out of 20,000 LEGO® pieces all for FREE.  Kids will explore hands-on architecture and learn about how to build strong structures out of LEGO® bricks.

The event is the Kick-off to Hawaii State Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and is completely FREE to the public.  We do encourage families to register at the link below, as the event may sell out.

Here are the details:

Date & Time:  Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 / 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

(You can register for one of six different 30-minute time slots throughout the day)

Location: Hawaii State Public Library, 478 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

Register For The City of Honolulu Build Here

Event Contacts:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do these city builds look like?

Can I drop my kid off at the event?

  • We ask that parents stay with their kids at all times

Will the kids get to keep their LEGO® creations after the event is over?

Can kids bring their own LEGO pieces to add to the city?

  • We ask that kids keep their LEGO® pieces at home as we would not want them to lose their favorite LEGO® pieces

We aren’t able to make it to the event, but would love for you to come to our neighborhood or school.  Is that possible?

How Long Has Play-Well Been in Hawaii?

For more information about Play-Well, visit play-well.org or send a question to Wrenn Okada at Wrenn@play-well.org.

A Mother’s Day Tribute in LEGO®

Every year, Mother’s Day comes around and we celebrate how awesome our moms are for the day.  Although, our mothers deserve more than one day, week, month, or even a year of our gratitude.

For all that our mothers have done for us: from cutting the corners off our bread, to driving us to far away soccer games, to volunteering to be the Girl Scout Den Leader, to listening and consoling us when we had a bad day at school, to cooling the hot cocoa before giving it to us, to catching us each time we were about to have a bad fall, to answering all of our why questions, to feeding us with a swooping airplane because we won’t eat otherwise, to doing countless loads of our laundry, to listen to our long, drawn out stories that have no end, to simply being there for us regardless of the situation and just being your awesome self, we want to thank you for all that you do.

We know that there are many kids out there that want to do something special for their mom, but may not know what to do or don’t have the funds to afford something special.

Well, in those cases, we have created this Mother’s Day Bouquet Build made out of LEGO® Bricks for kids to make for their mom on her special day.

We are encouraging kids this Mother’s Day to take something you love, such as LEGO and create a unique handmade gift for your mom.  Share what you are able to make with us and we will share it with our families around the country:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Creating The Oakland Fruitvale District For The Future Out of LEGO® Bricks

Reem’s California and Play-Well TEKnologies had an idea to bring together the community around food and play.

We asked families from the Oakland Fruitvale District these questions:

  • If you had the chance to design the Fruitvale, how would you design it?
  • What else would you add to the Fruitvale District that you currently think is missing?
  • How would you make the Fruitvale even better than it is now?

We gave them 40,000 LEGO® pieces and this is what they came up with.  This event was part of the Oakland Cinco De Mayo 2017 Event hosted by Oakland City Councilmember of District 5, Noel Gallo.

If you’d like us to build your neighborhood/city out of LEGO, check out our Special Events Page.

Take Our Classes From Your Own Home with LEGO® VR Glasses

We are excited to announce that after many months of research and develop, we have come up with a way for kids to take our Play-Well Classes from the comfort of their own home.  This is done with the help of these LEGO VR Glasses.

Source: http://image.tianjimedia.com/uploadImages/2015/047/N6KKF84OF348_s.jpg

Source: http://i.imgur.com/WBBIy16.jpg

Now kids can virtually be in our classes.  It provides the same quality Play-Well experience, except you’ll play with the LEGO you have in your house.  The VR experience will be rolling out to our Alaska and Idaho locations first and if successful will then expand.  Let us know what you think of this new of way of teaching classes the VR Way.  And if you haven’t heard yet…April Fool’s!

Huddle Up For Autism with The Philadelphia Eagles

On Sunday, March 26th, 2017, we partnered with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital for their Annual Huddle Up For Autism Event.  We helped Eagles fans built mini-eagles, goal posts, and even the Philadelphia Eagles logo out of LEGO® materials.

If you’d like to build a Mini-Eagles out of LEGO® material, check out our directions here:

Helping K-State Wildcats Fans Play Before The Big Game

We were lucky enough to be a part of K-State Wildcats NCAA Basketball game against the Texas Tech Raiders.  We provided LEGO-Inspired Basketball projects for families to play with before the big game.

How To Turn Your Passion For LEGO® Into A Career

Retired LEGO® Master Model Builder Steve Gerling wearing one of our Play-Well Bow Ties.

Parents frequently ask us “How can my kid become a LEGO® Master Builder?”  Although we are not LEGO® Master Builders ourselves, we have met a few of them and we have spent a great deal of time in the world of LEGO®.  So, we decided the best way to answer these questions is to compile an extensive list of our favorite resources about the various paths of turning your love of LEGO® into a career.  

We apologize for the length, as we wanted to make it as comprehensive a list as possible.  If you have additional links you’d like to share, feel free to provide them in the comments below.  

We have broken it down into two sections:

  1. How Can My Child Become a LEGO® Master Builder?  
  2. Can I Get Paid To Play With LEGO® without becoming a LEGO® Master Builder?

We hope you find this helpful.

How Can My Child Become a LEGO® Master Builder – Comprehensive Resource List

Before we begin, we must first define a few job terms in the world of LEGO®.

LEGO® Master Builders are generally responsible for designing and building promotional displays for The LEGO Group, such as X-Wing, LEGO® Version of David Ortiz, and the Millennium Falcon.  There are currently only 7 LEGO® Master Builders in the world.

LEGO® Designers create the LEGO sets that you get to build with.

LEGO® Master Model Builders create promotional displays at LEGOLAND Parks around the world.

LEGO® Certified Professionals is a community-based program made up of adult LEGO® hobbyists who have turned their passion for building and creating with LEGO® bricks into a full-time or part-time profession.

What we found from our research is a complicated truth.  There is no specific route to become a LEGO® Master Builder. Master builders and designers come from all different backgrounds and all walks of life. Some builders didn’t even play with LEGO® as a kid!

Does your entire family consist of LEGO® fanatics? For the last seven years, we have been working with the Father and son duo, Dan and Chris Steininger, as part of LEGO® Kidsfest,. Chris has followed in his father Dan’s footsteps to become a father-son LEGO® Master Builder team! For the Steininger’s LEGO® really is a family affair.

Top: The son, Chris Steininger, and his family wearing LEGO® Bow Ties Bottom: The Father, Dan Steininger talking with an aspiring LEGO® Builder at the final LEGO® Kidsfest.

The LEGO® Master Model Builder world has been a bit of a boys club but the field is transitioning into an increasingly girl-friendly environment. In June 2014, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester hired their first female LEGO® Master Model Builder, Veronica Watson.  She was recently in a NY Times article, featuring her LEGO version of Picasso’s Guernica.   

Dana Brandsema, one of our awesome Play-Well staff, was a LEGO® Master Model Builder back in 2010 at San Diego’s LEGOLAND.  Here is her story on how she became a model builder:

If your daughter loves to create unique creations out of LEGO® make sure to snap a lot of photos for her portfolio.  One day she may be competing to become the next LEGO® Master Builder.

Not all of the LEGO® Master Builders spend their time making models for theme parks and discovery centers. Former corporate attorney, Nathan Sawaya left his job in New York City to become a full-time LEGO® artist. His brick sculptures have been featured in countless museums and galleries around the world.  He is best known for his Art of The Brick Exhibition, which CNN has called “one of the top global exhibitions to see.”

Many of the Master Builders we have come across have a background in the arts including fine art, cartoons and sculpting. Erik Varszegi didn’t play with LEGO® as a child but he did love comic books and Star Wars.

The LEGO® Blockumentary Series is a great resource for parents & kids who want to learn what it’s like during at an average day working for LEGO®.  Here is one of Dan Steininger.

If you would like to work at LEGOLAND as a LEGO® Master Model Builder, there is one rite of passage for everyone in this coveted job. The LEGO® Master Model Builder job interview is a live competition where LEGO® fanatics have to build against one another to earn the spot as the newest LEGO® Master Model Builder. Check out this video of a real LEGO® Master Model Builder build competition at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Arizona.

According to LEGOLAND staff, “passion and the agility of being creative” are key ingredients to becoming part of the LEGO® team.  Here is an infographic from LEGOLAND on how to become a LEGO® Master Model Builder. 

Quartz recently did an interesting interview with Erik Varszegi and asked him about becoming a Master Builder.   According to Eric, the harsh reality is, “Sadly, you probably have a better chance of being a pro basketball player.”  There are only 7 LEGO® Master Builders in the world.

That is no reason to be discouraged.  There are still hundreds of jobs with LEGO® besides being a Master Builder and working at the LEGO® company is a great way to climb through the ranks. You can start as a gluer, a model builder, product design, transportation logistics, engineering, game design and more. LEGO® is always hiring enthusiastic, passionate people. They have offices and build centers all over the world and many times model builders will have the flexibility to relocate. Check out their online job listings for more information.

Want to know what it is like to work at The LEGO Group Headquarters?  Check out this video and the Life At The LEGO Group YouTube Series here.

Can I Get Paid To Play With LEGO® without becoming a LEGO® Master Builder?

You sure can.  Another route to being able to play to build with LEGO® is to explore the world of AFOL:  Adult Fans of LEGO®.  An entire documentary called The LEGO® Brickumentary depicts the AFOL world and all the awesome people who are part of it.  

Quite a few people in the AFOL community have been able to turn their passion of LEGO® into a part or full-time job playing with LEGO®. One of those amazing people, Alice Finch, built gigantic models of both Hogwarts and Rivendell out of LEGO® materials.

Alice may not have the title of a LEGO® Master Builder, but all of her work communicates otherwise.  There is Miss Courageous, Millie Higert, who makes LEGO®-Inspired Jewelry.  There is the creative artist, Guy Himber, who makes fun, customizable pieces out of LEGO®.  Mariann Asanuma, a former LEGO® Master Model Builder, makes models out of LEGO® materials through her organization, Modeling Building Secrets.  Joshua Harlan and Matthew Kay turned their love of LEGO® into a film career where they spotlight the world’s top LEGO® builders and their creations on their youtube channel: Beyond The Brick.   They recently visited Alice Finch’s house to see her 4 Million LEGO® piece collection.

You can meet tremendous LEGO® builders and creators, just like them, at the AFOL events that happen all over the country and see some of their incredible creations.  Here is a list of these LEGO® Conventions.  

Here are a few other pretty amazing people creating phenomenal creations with LEGO® materials:

Adam Ward, Soul Pancake

Jason Allemann of JKBrickworks

Yoshito Isogawa, who has written a few books about LEGO, including The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines

In our travels, we have met LEGO® Stop-Motion Animators,  photographers of all things LEGO® with huge followings on Instagram, writers blogging about their love of LEGO®, designers who create custom LEGO® Minifigures, as well as individuals making a living simply opening LEGO® kits to talk about them.  Check out this next example.

Do you think you are still too young to get paid to play with LEGO®?

Meet Evan, who started making videos of him playing with toys at 6.  He now has been doing reviews about LEGO® sets and other toys on his channel EvanTubeHD for the past 5 years.

His little sister also has a channel called JillianTubeHD.

How do we play with LEGO® at Play-Well?

At Play-Well, we play with LEGO® by teaching LEGO®-Inspired STEM and STEAM programs. Our hope is to inspire the next generation of engineers, inventors, and innovators, as well as LEGO® Master Builders & Designers.  Our staff love getting kids excited about engineering while playing.  Here is how our staff plays:  

Some of our staff now help build huge structures out of LEGO® materials as a way to bring the community together.  Here is one of our favorite recent builds:

Want even more information about becoming a LEGO® Master Builder, artist or designer?  We have provided additional articles, interviews, and videos below.  If you see a great article or video missing from this list, let us know and we will add it.

LEGO® Master Builder Articles:

LEGO® Master Builder Interviews:

LEGO® Master Builder Videos:

Great Links That Are All Things LEGO®