Female Scholars of Science & Technology with Alice Finch

Femal Scholars with Alice Finch

World-Renowned LEGO Artist, Alice Finch, the creator of the 400,000 piece LEGO Hogwarts introduced students to the many technological advancements contributed by female scientists and engineers today at Play Well Northwest Activity Center. Children learned about these female scholars by experientially building LEGO models of their great inventions. This is Alice Finch’s kick-off event as part of a larger project to introduce a variety of women scholars to kids through a LEGO curation.


Alice teaching kids about Emily Roebling, the woman who saved the Brooklyn Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Warren_Roebling).


Students building our cable stay bridge.


The cable-stay bridge was 6 ft in length. The bridge is complete with spinning diamond satellites.


Celebration. The bridge is complete.


Alice Finch displaying her Hogwarts Castle and all the details inside. There is a working slide inside.


We are now getting ready to build our city, but we first must determine the roles of each city planner. This city has its own garbage area, as well as a forest.


Teaching kids on how to build a DNA Strand.


DNA Strand complete.


How did Steve from Minecraft get in here?


Now that is a science lab.


This is a tallest and most complex DNA strand we’ve seen so far.


Alice Finch answering questions about what it is like being a LEGO Artist.


Students hard at work.

11 14 Check out some of the pictures from the event here.

Helping Boulder Public Library Renovate with LEGO

For Boulder Public Library’s Main Library renovation, we ran our Engineering with LEGO workshops and were able to create a 16 ft tall tower to welcome patrons to the new main library.  A little Colorado State pride also made its way to the top of the tower.

Boulder Public Library

Picture courtesy of Boulder Public Library

If you’d like us to participate in your upcoming event, check out our Play-Well Special Events Page and complete one of our event forms.

Press Advisory: Female Scholars of Science & Technology with Alice Finch

Femal Scholars with Alice Finch

WHEN: Saturday, April 18th, 10 AM – 5:30 PM

WHERE: Play-Well Northwest, 11743 124th Avenue NE, Kirkland, WA 98034

Rachel Swaby asks her readers, in a recent Wire magazine article called “We Need To Stop Ignoring Women Scientists” can you identify a female scholar of science and technology who has helped to change the world?  For most people, the answer is no.

Play-Well TEKnologies and World-Renowned LEGO Builder Alice Finch, the creator of the 400,000 piece LEGO Hogwarts Castle, are hoping to change that. On Saturday, April 18th from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM, Alice Finch (with a little help from Play-Well) will introduce students to the many technological advancements contributed by female scientists and engineers.  Alice and Play-Well will do this by having children learn experientially through building LEGO models of these great female scholars’ inventions. This is Alice Finch’s kick-off event as part of a larger project to introduce a variety of women scholars to kids through a LEGO curation.

Why is this such an important issue to address? CNN recently reported that in the U.S., “just one in seven engineers are female, only 27% of all computer science jobs are held by women, and women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000.” A group of women leaders in STEM fields surveyed by CNN presented these possible solutions to address this issue:

1. Recognize that the the toys and games that young girls play with mold their educational and career interests.

2. Introduce girls early to role models of other women in STEM.

3. Engage girls in STEM and keep them interested.

This workshop addresses all three of these solutions, providing students an opportunity to learn about female science and technology role models in an engaging way using LEGO.  This initial event is a trial to see how much interest there is for this type of learning and subject matter… and if having this event sell out in a few hours in any indication, there is definitely a need for more of this type of education.

For more information about the Female Scholars of Science & Technology event, click here or visit http://bit.ly/FemaleScholarsOfScienceWorkshop.  For specific questions about the event, please contact Claire Stafford at (206) 310-0678 or at claire@play-well.org.

LEGO Female Scientist

New LEGO Female Scientist Minifigure by LEGO.



Playing Well with Future Engineers at the National Society of Black Engineers Conference

The National Society of Black Engineers invited us to their annual conference at the Anaheim Convention Center. Future engineers from all across the country flew in to learn more about the world of engineering and how they can pursue a career in the engineering field. Our job was to introduce elementary through high school students to the world of engineering using LEGO.  We really appreciate the opportunity to work with extremely smart, dedicated, focused students. Thanks NSBE for having us!  Here is a video and pictures of what we were able to create with these awesome engineers of the future.


We have a packed room for our Engineering skills class for high school students. We taught students about reverse engineering and how to see their failures as simply stepping stones to success.



This student was quite pleased that he was able to reverse engineer his project and figure out how to combine two transmissions together in a simple, efficient way.


These middle school engineering students solved a conveyor belt challenge by fixing design flaws in real time.


One of our students, Justin, checking our 12 ft long cable-stayed bridge for any structural issues and adding the final touches.


Success! 12ft cable-stayed bridge built in less than 1 hour.



One of our staffers, Chre, who is a National Society of Black Engineers alumni, found his almamater there and they had to take a picture of this Aerospace Engineering Graduate who is now getting other kids interested in engineering


So many different creative designs to tackle the challenge.


We are not LEGOLAND, but for one workshop, we did provide an extravaganza of LEGO.


We built a 17 ft long corbelled arch bridge. It took us less than 1 hour.

If you’d like us to participate in your conference, check out our Special Events page.



LEGO…You Are Better Than Beauty Tips

We recently came across this parent blog post in the New York Times called Beauty Tips For Girls, From LEGO.  Here is an excerpt of the piece:


“My 7-year-old wants to know if she has an oval face. Why? Because “oval faces can often have almost any style haircut because almost everything looks great on this face shape!” Her sudden concern with her hairstyle “looking great” comes courtesy of her new Lego Club Magazine, which included “Emma’s Beauty Tips” in the March-April 2015 Lego Club Magazine.  She is 7. My little girl, the shape of her face, and whether her haircut is flattering are none of Lego’s concern. It wasn’t even her concern until a toy magazine told her to start worrying about it.  I had come down (barely) on Lego’s side in its quest to sell girls the glammed-up Lego Friends line, full of bricked-out beauty salons and pool parties and horse stables. But now this?”

Our Response:

Dear LEGO,

Typically we love you and your work, but your LEGO Friends beauty tips in the last issue of the LEGO Club Magazine is just wrong.  Being smart and kind is beautiful, not your hair or face shape.  Playtime shouldn’t be about beauty tips, it should be about learning and growing. Shaping the next generation is a great privilege. Let’s not waste it.  If anything, this is the type of beauty tip we expect from you LEGO and you said this message back in 1981.  Still relevant today.




Press Advisory: Building Boulder Out of LEGO For National Engineering Week

National Engineering Week: Building Boulder out of LEGO

WHEN: Saturday, February 21st, 1 PM – 4 PM

WHERE: Boulder Public Library

It is no mystery that America has some catching up to do with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.  The National Math & Science Initiative has reported that “only 38% students who have STEM majors receive a degree in that major, and 31 percent of U.S. bachelor’s degrees were awarded in science and engineering fields, compared with 61 percent in Japan and 51 percent in China.”

The city of Boulder, Colorado is doing something to address this problem.  Boulder Valley School District is applying for STEM Grants and building STEM Coalitions with local universities. Supporting local STEM non-profits like Cool Girls, hosting Maker Faire Boulder and Boulder Public Library’s STEAM Saturdays.

On Saturday, February 21st, Boulder Public Library is teaming up with Play-Well TEKnologies, an organization that teaches kids engineering concepts using LEGO, in a collaborative effort to introduce more kids to the world of engineering.  Over 100,000 pieces of LEGO and hundreds of families will be converging on the Boulder Public Library, in an effort to build the City of Boulder out of LEGO and get more kids interested in engineering and other STEM and STEAM-related fields.

Introduce A Kid To Engineering Day

For more information on the event, visit: http://bit.ly/BoulderLibraryEngineeringDayForKids

Brianna Laffey, a Play-Well staffer who is helping to coordinate the event, says “the goal of this event is to introduce kids to engineering in a fun, memorable way so they want to know more” and “help promote the good work that the Boulder Library is doing around STEAM.”

This event coincides with the beginning of National Engineering Week.  “The idea of building Boulder out of LEGO partly represents that it is going to take a community to help build the engineers and scientists of tomorrow.  We just so happen to be doing it one LEGO brick at a time.”

For more information about the Boulder Library STEAM event, visit http://bit.ly/BoulderLibraryEngineeringDayForKids or contact Brianna Laffey at 720.515.7309 or at brianna@play-well.org.

Play- Well TEKnologies programs are not authorized, sponsored or endorsed by the LEGO® Group.

Playing Well In 2015!

As we ring in the New Year, we just wanted to say thank you for your support and for joining us on our Play-Well adventures in 2014.  We hope you and your family’s 2015 is filled with happiness, fulfillment, educational epiphanies, and of course, awesome LEGO builds.  We hope you’ll be able to LEGO more this year and play well!  May this be your most satisfying and memorable year yet.

Happy New Year 2015 - Play-Well