On “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” Day…

As the saying goes: Give a girl a LEGO® set and watch her become a world-renowned engineer. At least that’s the version we’re sticking with, given that today is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

We know you’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Women are under-represented in the engineering sector both in South Africa and worldwide. To quote WomeninTechZA: “Only 23% of tech jobs are held by women in South Africa – out of 236 000 ICT (tech) roles, women occupy 56 000 of them.”

Thankfully, we’ve made some progress over the past few decades – in no small part due to the strong women who have fought to stay in the field today. It’s thanks to them and a growing awareness that real gender equality is about challenging misguided and antiquated assumptions about what men and women “should” and “shouldn’t” do, and focusing instead on one key thing: ability.

It’s not like girls aren’t doing something about the bias themselves. They’re outspoken, proactive, often more insightful than the grown-ups. A few years back, we received a letter from a young girl who challenged us to drop our “Girls” category. We heard her and made the changes. And we’re not alone in receiving requests along this line. In 2014, a young girl by the name of Charlotte wrote a letter directly to The LEGO® Group:

Dear LEGO company,
My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I love LEGOs but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections the girls pink and the boys blue. All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!
Thank you.
from Charlotte

Since 2014, The LEGO® Group appears to have taken this request to heart but with an important caveat: they’re not about being gender-neutral, rather, they strive to be gender-inclusive. Simply look to the LEGO® Ideas Women of NASA set and the LEGO® DC Super Hero Girls™ sets released in 2017 as evidence.

It makes sense and is perhaps a small part of a broader picture. The main point is that there is no reason a young girl shouldn’t build whatever LEGO® Technic set her heart desires; or learn to programme Vernie the Robot, or indeed, build the LEGO® Architecture Taj Mahal.

Shop LEGO Technic

LEGO® play is a great source of skills development and girls should have the same opportunity to develop these skills. Getting lost in a LEGO® build is engaging, creative and problem-solving, no matter your gender. It’s the type of play that encourages our kids to develop vital skills needed to become good engineering students later.

A case in point: LEGO® Technic should be considered as important a theme for girls as it is for boys. With pneumatics, motors and gears involved in each build, this is a great challenge for anyone eager to take it on. It’s all about a challenging, yet rewarding, LEGO® experience, certainly not reserved for one gender.

It’s up to individuals in communities like ours to take vital steps towards this equality among our children. It entails having strong role models such as can be found in our local LEGO® User Groups and burgeoning organisations like Africa Teen Geeks and Women in Tech. We need to up our encouragement as parents and get our girls involved in awesome programmes like FIRST LEGO® League or LEGO® robotics classes when they come along.

Let’s band together to change the perception around what LEGO® sets and themes are available to our girls. After all, that young female LEGO® fan could go on to help change the world, solving one tech problem at a time.

Browse LEGO® Technic, LEGO® Boost and LEGO® Architecture sets at Kiddiwinks online shop or at our four stores!

What do you think we could do to get girls more involved in LEGO building? Tell us in the comments section below .

Build your own LEGO® Buckingham Palace

Fancy setting up Buckingham Palace in your living room? How about the seat of the United States Congress, the Capitol building? LEGO® Architecture has released these two sets, and architecture buffs are clamouring to get building. These two much-anticipated LEGO® Architecture sets are finally available in South Africa, specifically, at Kiddiwinks! With the careful attention to detail and microscale design, it’s no wonder that many are so excited.

Adam Reed Tucker tending to his One World Trade Centre replica
Image via Daily Herald.

Since the core concept behind LEGO® bricks is particularly well aligned to the art of architecture, it’s not surprising that the idea to create an architectural range was considered back in the 1960s, but was only revived again when LEGO® connected with architect and LEGO® enthusiast and architect Adam Reed Tucker in the early noughties when he presented a two-and-a-half meter replica of the One World Trade Centre he had built out of LEGO® using pieces from various other sets. This was the building that fully collapsed during the September 11 attacks in New York, and Tucker had created the replica to show technical aspects of the building.

By 2008, Tucker had partnered with LEGO® to become a Lego Certified Professional, launching the LEGO® Architecture range with the introduction of the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center sets – both buildings that are based in Chicago where Tucker is based. A handbook filled with information about each building, from its history to the architect that designed and built it accompanied each set, turning the range into a collector’s dream.

They went on to release the Empire State Building set in 2009, along with the Seattle Space Needle and Guggenheim Museum. But it was only in 2011 that the first set of a building outside of the US was created: the Burj Khalifa, Dubai’s mega skyscraper. This was released in the LEGO® Landmark range.

The following year marked the release of the first British building set: Big Ben. It’s interesting to note that the just-released Buckingham Palace is only the second British building in the range, but it’s certainly no afterthought. In fact, the model has captured the essence of the building and has been favourably reviewed by Brickset for maintaining the complexity of design even on such a small scale.

Expect over 700 pieces in this set, and plenty of attention to detail, right down to the inclusion of a red double-decker bus so common in London and a strong focus on the neoclassical features of the building’s east wing.

The end result is good enough to display in your home or office and will no doubt get you thinking about embarking on a whole collection of the range if you haven’t already.

The Capitol Hill set contains over 1000 pieces, and is sure to be a challenge for even an accomplished builder. The wonderful thing about embarking on a build from the LEGO® Architecture is just how much you learn about the way the architects themselves were thinking when they designed these beautiful buildings. Capitol Hill model is no different and has a strong focus on the neoclassical style façade of the building. In fact, one reviewer using the name JYoung27 on the LEGO® Architecture website called this set the “best model yet”.

Capitol Building LEGO Architecture

“The US Capitol Building model was a surprisingly fun build,” JYoung27 went on to say. “I expected there to be many repetitive steps in it like with the White House or the Louvre, but everything was just a little bit different and kept a fun amount of excitement as you saw how the designers executed the details. The really fun surprise was the detachable dome that reveals the rotunda below with the statues inside!”

Kiddiwinks happens to be one of only two exclusive outlets in South Africa supplying LEGO® Architecture and the only one in the Western Cape. So, what are you waiting for? Get your set of Buckingham Palace and the Capitol building now by going over to shop.kiddiwinks.co.za or visiting one of our three retail outlets.

Happy building!