Celebrating Mom Through Play

Every year, Mother’s Day comes around and a few days before many of us scramble to get her the perfect gift at the last minute.

This year, we are encouraging our Play-Well students to plan ahead and through play, create an amazing gift for your mom that she will truly cherish.

We have provided below ideas and tutorials on a few gifts that you can build out of LEGO® materials.  And if you need an added incentive to start building now, if you share what you are able to make with us, you could receive a LEGO® gift for your efforts.

Feel free to share your creations via one of our channels:

Check out the projects below for ideas:

A LEGOLAND Master Model Builder shows you how to make the perfect picture frame.

Here are some helpful LEGO® creations you can make to help around the house from Householder Hacker.

Layla Mom Created This Amazing Photo Pen Holder

Little Bins For Little Hands created this cute LEGO Candy Box

We Built Austin Out of LEGO® at SXSWedu

During SXSWedu, we help create a LEGO version of the City of Austin with the help of teachers, school administrators, and students.

We started with one building and watch the evolution throughout the event.

 

A high school band even came by.

Celebrating 20 Years of Playing Well!

20 years ago, our founder, Tim Bowen, had an idea to introduce kids to the world of engineering through playing with LEGO®, when the concept of S.T.E.M. had not even been popularized yet. Since then, Play-Well has been lucky enough to teach over 800,000 kids. Here is the story of how a crazy idea became an engineering program for kids that now teaches over 100,000 kids a year all over the United States.

Thanks, everyone that has ever participated in a Play-Well Program.  We couldn’t have gotten here without you.

Can You Create Music Out Of LEGO® Pieces?

One of our students asked us “can we create music out of LEGO® pieces?”  Our response was “let’s try.”  Here is what we have been able to come up with.

Our North Bay Manager, Justin, created a mini guitar made out of LEGO.  You can even tune the strings individually using a LEGO Worm Gear Box.

Tag us on a video of you creating music out of LEGO® materials, and we will send you a LEGO® prize.

Warwick Elementary Builds Star Wars Worlds with 60,000 LEGO® pieces

On May The Fourth, 2017, Warwick Elementary Families and Play-Well TEKnologies collaborated to build three separate Star Wars Worlds.  Those worlds included the Ewok Village, Cloud City, and the trenches of the Death Star.  Here is what over 200 families were able to create in just two hours…

If you’d like us to do an event like this at your school, visit our special events page for details: http://play-well.org/about-special-events.shtml

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®

 

Playing Well At TedX On Board

We created a TedX Sign for TedXOnBoard in San Francisco.  It was made up of 15,000 LEGO® pieces and it was for the Conference: Uncharted.

If you’d like us to help out with your upcoming event, visit our Special Events Page Here.