NASA, LEGO team up to give your kids — and you — something to do this summer

June 6, 2013

Fresh off of the unveiling of their largest model ever — a Star Wars X-wing Starfighter — LEGO is now teaming up with the real-life space explorers, NASA, for a new design competition.

A view of the world's largest LEGO Model, a 1:1 replica of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing Starfighter that took 32 Model Builders, 5.3 million LEGO bricks and over 17,000 hours to complete, after it's unveiling in New York City's Times Square, Thursday May 23, 2013. (Amy Sussman/AP Images for The LEGO Group)
A view of the world’s largest LEGO model, a 1:1 replica of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing Starfighter that took 32 modelers 5.3 million LEGO bricks and more than 17,000 hours to complete, after its unveiling in New York City’s Times Square on May 23,. (Amy Sussman/AP Images for the LEGO Group)

The “NASA’s Missions: Imagine and Build” challenge will allow individuals 13 and older to (using LEGOs, of course) design and build their own “aircraft of the future” based on actual NASA engineers’ designs and real-life challenges, such as reducing the environmental footprint of the craft and increasing fuel economy. And that’s just part of the competition category dubbed “Inventing our Future of Flight.”

Participants in that category will also be called on to show off their scientific and engineering chops by writing a technical paper to describe how their design leverages and, perhaps, improves on existing NASA tech. Participants will be split into two groups, those between 13 and 18 and larger group for those 13 and up. Winners — one for each group — get a custom LEGO trophy and NASA goodies.

The second category, “Imagine our Future Beyond Earth,” is for participants 16 years and older, calling on them to design a futuristic craft — space or air, it doesn’t matter — of some kind. Basically, if you can build it with LEGOs and make it look cool, go for it, albeit within this none-too-short list of rules and regulations. That list includes, but is not limited to, giving LEGO and NASA the right to refuse any military or weapons models, models containing “defamatory or degrading elements,” and those including toy parts not made by LEGO. So, leave your Erector Set and Lincoln Logs out.

Winners in this category get a LEGO set signed by the set designer and NASA goodies. The runner-up gets a yet-to-be-determined prize as well.

The competition is, not surprisingly, well-timed for the summer months, providing an opportunity for parents to cut down on the “I’m borrrred!” pronouncements and, perhaps, help their kids find a new, and potentially lucrative, passion.

Oh, and here’s more of that X-wing:


LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi and a friend, with the LEGO X-Wing. (Amy Sussman/AP Images for The LEGO Group)
The back of the world's largest LEGO Model is seen, a 1:1 replica of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing Starfighter that took 32 Model Builders, 5.3 million LEGO bricks and over 17,000 hours to complete, in New York City's Times Square, Thursday May 23, 2013. (Amy Sussman/AP Images for The LEGO Group)
(Amy Sussman/AP Images for The LEGO Group)
Thousands gather in New York City's Times Square to watch the unveiling of the world's largest LEGO Model, a 1:1 replica of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing Starfighter that took 32 Model Builders, 5.3 million LEGO bricks and over 17,000 hours to complete, Thursday May 23, 2013. (Amy Sussman/AP Images for The LEGO Group)
 (Amy Sussman/AP Images for The LEGO Group)
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Emi Kolawole | June 6, 2013