2014 LEGO Kidsfests & Conventions

Play-Well LEGO Technic Booth

2014 LEGO® Kidsfest Tour

We are excited to be sponsoring the LEGO® Technic Section at LEGO® Kidsfest, the largest LEGO® Tour in the world.  We will be at these LEGO Kidsfest tour spots highlighted in blue:

North America LEGO® Conventions & Events

Here is a list of the LEGO® Conventions in North America.  This is a place where some of the best adult and kid LEGO® builders in the country gather to display their work, exchange ideas, and share their passion for LEGO®.


In the list below, we have bolded the LEGO conventions & events in blue that we are currently attending in 2014.  More locations may be added in the future.

Click HERE for a list of all LEGO® Conventions worldwide.

The Winners Of Our Play-Well Summer Photo Contest Are…

Our Play-Well Summer Photo Contest has finally come to an end.  We had so much fun seeing all the creative entries submitted this summer.  All of the entries were great in their own right.  We asked you to vote for your favorites and here are the results.

Elena, Play-Well In Sign Language

1st Place with 108 Votes: Elena, Play-Well In Sign Language

2nd Place: Katy, Play-Well LEGO Heads and  Star Wars Transport

2nd Place with 106 Votes: Katy from Connecticut, Play-Well LEGO Heads and Star Wars Transport

3rd Place: Tomoe, Play Well Shadow

3rd Place with 96 Votes: Tomoe from Seattle, Play Well Shadow

Play-Well Staff's Pick: Amy, Human Play Well Sign

Play-Well Staff’s Pick: Amy from Los Angeles, Human Play Well Sign

Check out all the awesome photo entries here: http://bit.ly/2013PlayWellSummerPhotoContestEntries

Thanks so much for participating!  Like our Play-Well Facebook Page to find out about our next Play-Well LEGO contest.

Need A Certain LEGO Piece? Visit our Play-Well Parts Shop!


Because our teaching kits have over 20,000 pieces of LEGO, we are constantly in need of additional LEGO pieces.  So, we created a Play-Well Parts Shop to supply our teaching kits located across the country with LEGO pieces.  A few years ago, we decided that if we were already supplying LEGO to our kits, why not create a public Play-Well Parts Shop so LEGO builders of all ages in the area could do the same.

Part shop 3

In our Play-Well Parts Shop, kids and adults have access to over 100,000 pieces of LEGO to purchase.  There are at least 150 variations of LEGO pieces to choose from. LEGO Mini-figures, LEGO bulbs, LEGO Bow Tie pieces, and fluorescent LEGO jewel pieces to name a few.


This is a sample of the type of LEGO pieces we have available at our parts shop.

Part shop

All parts are individually priced out.

Parts shop closeup

We have had many LEGO builders find pieces that they needed for a particular project here.

We always recommend to our Play-Well families to purchase pieces online, but if you don’t know what piece you are looking for and happen to be in the Northern California Area, come by our Play-Well Marin Center  (216 Greenfield Avenue San Anselmo, CA) and visit our parts shop.

Click HERE for more information on our center.

If you aren’t able to make it out, here are some great places on the web to find rare LEGO pieces:

We love seeing LEGO Builders of all ages able to accomplish a really big project that they have been planning for quite some time, and we hope this parts shop can help builders achieve their goal.

If you have trouble finding the place, look for the LEGO Golden Gate Bridge.

If you have trouble finding the center, look for the LEGO Golden Gate Bridge in the window.


Play-Well Summer 2013 Photo Contest

Summer Photo Contest

Hi Play-Well Families,

After our successful photo contest last summer, The Brick Stanley Project, we have decided to do a new summer photo contest this year.  For this contest, we are asking our families to take a picture of the words PLAY WELL, spelled out in a creative, unique, slightly ridiculous way.  We see “Play Well” as not only our name, but also our philosophy on how our organization works.  When our engineering students are playing well in class, they are solving problems, exploring the world, and learning about themselves through play.  When our staff is playing well, they are having more fun than they have had at any other job.  So, we wanted to spread the message of playing well and here is how we are going to do it:

Summer Photo Contest 2

Here are some examples of photos already submitted:

Play-Well Sign Example 1

Carter & Rogan Schmidbauer, Phoenix, AZ

Play-Well Sun

Play-Well Example 1

Brandon Jones, Kirkland, WA

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara, CA

Play-Well Example #2

Lester Mendaros, Pleasanton, CA

Play-Well Beach

Ben Pfister, Ventura, CA

When you have taken your photo, you can submit it in the following ways:

Check out our current submissions here: http://bit.ly/2013PlayWellSummerPhotoContestEntries

You can even submit more than one photo if you’d like.  We will gather all the photos from the contest and in August, we will  have our Play-Well Families vote for their favorite photo.  The top three winners could win a Engineering with LEGO® Birthday Party, a LEGO® Technic Set, or  LEGO® Bow Tie.  All photos will be included in our upcoming video, so everyone wins.  Voting ends at 11:59 PM on Labor Day, September 2nd.  We hope you enter the contest.  If you have any questions, email Jeff at jeff@play-well.org.


Jedi Green Engineering with LEGO® Camp Featured In Monterey News

We offered one of the first JEDI Green Engineering Camps in the country in Monterey, CA.  Utilizing the world of Star Wars, we taught kids about Green Engineering & Green Technology.  Central Coast News of Monterey was there to do the story.  You can get more information about the program below.

Jedi Green Engineering Camp with LEGO® In Monterey

Star Wars

WHEN:            MONDAY, JULY 1st, 2013 – FRIDAY, JULY 5th, 2013, 9 AM – 12 PM (no camp on July 4th)

WHERE:          MONTEREY YOUTH CENTER, 777 Pearl St., Monterey, CA 93940

WHY:              Play-Well TEKnologies, in collaboration with the City of Monterey Recreation Department, is running the first ever JEDI Green Engineering with LEGO® camp in the country.  It is an experimental program that combines the world of Star Wars with environmental engineering, as a way of introducing sustainability and green technology to kids.  It asks the question, through the make-believe world of Star Wars: can kids better learn how to help save the real world through green tech?  This program incorporates STEM teaching in a way that has never been tried before.

Play-Well’s Monterey Bay instructor, Alon Keller, is a devout Star Wars fan, and has a passion for green engineering, having graduated from CSU Monterey Bay with a degree in Environmental Science.  He has helped craft Play-Well’s Green Engineering curriculum and thought combining this popular JEDI genre with his green passion could make for an amazing, experimental program.

“If you look at a Star Wars encyclopedia, at the spaceship designs, their main power sources are supplemented by solar panels on the wings.  Which is very cool… the Star Wars universe seems to lend itself already to thinking about one’s environment.  When you look at the way “A New Hope” begins in a desert planet, George Lucas built a set in Tunisia.  It’s very obvious that a lot of thought went into what kind of adaptations people would need to survive in that environment.  The people live underground and have to mine for water.  It’s a really integral part of the characters’ developments.  The Ewoks are also shaped by their environment and habitat.  Likewise with Hoth.  There is aquatic life on Naboo… it’s a very diverse plethora of habitats you are exposed to.  Because it is a very technologically advanced setting, it allows you to think about the ways these civilizations have devised to extract the maximum amount of resources… Back in the 70’s, maybe talking about the environment wasn’t quite as prominent.  Maybe the City in the Clouds was a reaction to the OPEC oil crisis.  In episodes one to three, there was a lot of mining.  It is very important to a technologically advanced civilization to have access to these resources that provide power for this vast fleet of ships.  Talking about the environment is a good way to talk about Star Wars.”

Source: Lucas Films (http://lucasfilm.com/)  Photos from Star Wars, Episode 1: A New Hope

Source: Lucas Films (http://lucasfilm.com/)
Photos from Episode 1: A New Hope

Alon hopes this experimental LEGO® program will help create a whole new way of building kids’ passion and interest in green technology.  Maybe it will even inspire some future JEDI environmental engineers along the way.

For more information, please contact Alon Keller at 818-645-9567 or alon@play-well.org.  Play-Well TEKnologies programs are not authorized, sponsored or endorsed by the LEGO® Group.

Star Wars

All Girls Engineering with LEGO® Camp Featured On Q13 Fox & King 5 In Seattle!

Our All Girls Engineering with LEGO Camp was featured on two local Seattle News Stations, Q13 Fox and King 5.  Here are the two stories:

Q13 Fox Seattle

King 5 Seattle


LEGO Raffle Pic

WHEN: MONDAY, JUNE 24TH, 2013 – FRIDAY, JUNE 28TH, 2013, 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM

WHERE: Phinney Neighborhood Center

Lower (Brick) Building, Room No 36

6615 Dayton Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

WHY:  Play-Well TEKnologies is running an all girls Engineering with LEGO® program for 2nd – 5th Grade female students at the Phinney Neighborhood Center.  It is the first all girls engineering program of its kind conducted in the Phinney neighborhood that addresses STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education.

A recent study by the National Science Foundation and the American Association of University Women found that female university graduates were earning less than 20% of Bachelor’s Degrees in STEM related fields.  This existed even though the number of H.S. female students identified as “mathematically gifted” (scoring above 700 in the Math SAT exam) was over 33%.  The goal of programs such as Play-Well’s is to help introduce these STEM fields at an early age to girls, demystifying engineering, so that these young female students can see themselves one day as engineers, computer programmers, and scientists.

Molly Lebowitz

Play-Well Washington’s Manager, Molly Lebowitz, is one of the 20% of female engineers who achieved her degree in the male-dominated engineering field.  Molly graduated from Cornell University and used to work for an environmental engineering organization.  She contributed to the EngineerGirl initiative through the National Academy of Engineering for 5 years.  While at Play-Well, she quickly noticed the gender disparity in the building classes for youngsters.  As a result, Molly has been instrumental in expanding Play-Well initiative in Washington to give young girls dedicated opportunities to try their hand at building and experimenting with mechanics in a fun, collaborative space. “This is not just pink LEGO. In fact, the curriculum is virtually identical to the co-ed programs. We are simply removing the minority pressure, and fostering the way girls play in the context of building and construction.”  With a few LEGO pieces, Molly hopes this initiative will help build a few future female engineers.

Play-Well Female Engineers

Play-Well Engineers

For more information, please contact Molly Lebowitz at 206.310.0678 or molly@play-well.org.  Play-Well TEKnologies programs are not authorized, sponsored or endorsed by the LEGO® Group.

LEGO® Events & Tips

Here is a list of LEGO Events across North America, as well as LEGO tips to help you build, organize, and understand the world of LEGO.

2013 LEGO® Kidsfest Tour

Play-Well LEGO Technic Booth

We are excited to be sponsoring the LEGO® Technic Section at LEGO® Kidsfest, the largest LEGO® Tour in the world.

North America LEGO® Conventions

Here is a list of the LEGO® Conventions in North America.  This is a place where some of the best adult and kid LEGO® builders in the country gather to display their work, exchange ideas, and share their passion with LEGO®.


In this list, we have bolded the LEGO Cons in blue that we are attending this year.

Click HERE for a list of all LEGO® Conventions worldwide.

LEGO® Tips

With LEGO, there are endless possibilities. Here is a list of useful tips we have found to help you build, organize, and understand the world of LEGO.

Source: Evil Mad Scientist (http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2008/how-to-organize-your-lego-bricks-for-efficient-building/)

Best Places To Find Rare LEGO®

LEGO®, the LEGO logo, and the brick and knob configuration are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2013 The LEGO Group.  These programs are not authorized, sponsored or endorsed by the LEGO Group.

Teaching at Colorado Center of The Blind

The Colorado Center of the Blind is “a renowned training center that has provided innovative teaching techniques and philosophy on the lives of blind people, taking them to new heights of independence”. They reached out to us in early May to see if we would be interested in bringing STEM based programs to their summer program held yearly for blind children at their center.

In our meeting to plan for our STEM workshop, we wanted to see and try out our program with their summer program leadership team. This was in order to help our instructors feel comfortable in adapting our teaching styles to be able to teach the blind. We provided a workshop for their summer program counselors on Tuesday June 4th.

What a truly eye opening experience! When teaching our program, we really were unprepared with just how high functioning our blind students were. Not only were they focused on our directions, but we were blown away at their spatial awareness. We told them where to find the LEGO bricks around them and after some brief directions, they were on their way!


Our students did their build at a table with LEGO 2×4 bricks spread out in front of them. Jen Schubert, did a wonderful job introducing what the pieces we were going to use, describing the type of bricks we would use and the orientation of each brick, as they were expected to build two piers of our corbelled arch bridge.


LEGOs are tactile, their studs are not only beneficial for building with, but working with our blind friends, we were able to clearly describe how each brick fit for each layer of our bridge. We also had 2 sample piers prepared as well, and our students used the example to see our project: counting the layers of each “staircase,” the cracks of each stack, and the cracks between bricks to make sure their piers were built correctly.


Some builders were done within the first five minutes of the build! We added the deck plates and our early finishers got started by adding 1x bricks to the outside studs for railings. We had prepared 32×32 sheets with pieces to create a gravity car chassis if we had time. And did we ever! We had two gravity car chassis that were being shared by the group as they felt the holes of each beam to make sure they placed their axles correctly. They found their bushings and 4x plates after first orienting themselves with the pieces by touch. The gravity car was a little more difficult for some builders, but with persistence and guidance by Nick Spencer and Rob Angcay every single student not only created a gravity car chassis, but used decoration pieces also found on the table to create race cars, trucks, tractors, and one even had a propeller to fly!

We transferred their bridge from the table to a bench about 3 feet away from where they built it. Our students then were able to finally see out long their bridge became by walking over and orienting themselves to the end of the bridge solely by following the directions of Rob Angcay’s voice. Then, they walked the length of the bridge one by one. “Whoa, we made it this long?” were some words of excitement from our students.


They then made their way back to the table to begin clean up. Our students were able to take their gravity car apart and create build piles, where they returned their pieces to their specific bins as Jen and Nick walked around the table with specific piece bins, letting them know which pieces belonged to their bin.

What a success! Our instructors felt rewarded, and most importantly we have started a wonderful relationship with an amazing program. We plan to return to offer a weekend workshop in July where we will teach another program with the kids of their summer program.