LEGO Systems Celebrates a Year of Milestones
World’s leading construction toy maker fetes several important anniversaries
ENFIELD, Connecticut (February 17, 2008) – The LEGO Group, the world’s largest construction toy maker has plenty of reason to celebrate in 2008; many of its icons and programs celebrate important milestones in their legacies of inspiring and developing the builders of tomorrow. From the original LEGO brick and iconic LEGO minifigure to the LEGO MINDSTORMS consumer robotics trailblazer and the not-for-profit FIRST LEGO League, the LEGO brand has been a leader and driving force for innovation, inspiration and creative expression to connect generations of children to their futures.
50 Years of the Original LEGO® Brick
The original LEGO® brick, known to billions around the globe, turned 50 at exactly 1:58pm on January 28, 2008 – the date and time when the original patent was filed – marking a legacy of creativity and fun for children of all ages. In addition to providing great fun, LEGO bricks also promote motor, cognitive and creative skills – one of the many reasons parents have put their faith in the LEGO brand for decades. It’s not just children who are crazy about these building blocks: countless numbers of adults find inspiration in them – be it in art, architecture, engineering, landscaping, filmmaking or furniture design, among others. The bricks are also used in classrooms from preschool to university levels to teach any subject matter playfully, and some workplaces even use the bricks for creative inspiration and developing team communication skills – including Google – who commemorated the brick’s golden anniversary with a Google “Doodle,” LEGO style.
Today, on average, there are abut 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s inhabitants. More than 400 million people around the world have played with LEGO bricks, and it’s estimated that children spend 500 million hours per year exploring their imaginations through LEGO building.
A limited edition gold brick can be found in a commemorative brick set, launching this August. A global building challenge invites children from around the world to become the best LEGO builder in their country. Each winner will then meet in Billund, Denmark, home of the LEGO Group, to compete in the ultimate building event. Children ages 6-13 in the U.S. and Canada can find more details about the contest in the next issue of the LEGO Club Magazine or by visiting www.LEGO.com/Club in March.
LEGO Minifigure Turns 30!
The iconic little LEGO people celebrate their 30th birthday this year, marking a legacy of role play, imagination, humor and entertainment for millions of LEGO children around the world. LEGO designers had been cranking out sets to build houses and machines, but something was missing – a human element. After nearly 50 designs and countless prototypes, the LEGO minifigure was born in the summer of 1978 and has become almost as iconic and synonymous with the LEGO brand as the original brick itself.
The first minifigure was a policeman, joined by six other figures in the Space, Castle and Town themes. Two months later, the first female figure appeared – a nurse. It wasn’t until 1989 that the facial expressions of minifigures started to change to depict good from bad, in the Pirates theme. In 1999, the minifigure first took on the appearance of a specific character role with the debut of the company’s first license, Star Wars™. In 2003, the minifigure’s iconic yellow tone was, in some cases, replaced with more authentic skin tones in those lines where actual people are being depicted.
Today, more than 4 billion LEGO minifigures are in circulation, making it one of the world’s single largest populations. The icon has traveled to Mars and the International Space Station, stars in tens of thousands of homemade movies, comes to life in best-selling video game titles and continues to inspire the imaginations and role play possibilities of children around the world.
LEGO MINDSTORMS® Leads Innovation for 10 Years
In 1988, the LEGO Group began conversations with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, commencing 10 years of research and development on a way to make LEGO bricks “smart”. The resulting RCX brick was included in the LEGO MINDSTORMS® Robotics Invention System™, launched in 1998, to revolutionize the consumer robotics experience. For the first time ever, children had the tools to design, build and program robots that do what they want. But MINDSTORMS didn’t only appeal to children, a growing community of adult enthusiasts embraced the platform and continues to develop innovative robotics solutions today.
LEGO MINDSTORMS not only changed the way children played with LEGO at home, but classrooms around the world embrace the platform as a means of teaching children all matter of subjects from science and
technology to engineering to mathematics and even reading. The concept entered the next generation when LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT was introduced in 2006.
Today, well over 1 million LEGO smart bricks are in use around the world, and the community of enthusiasts, both young and old, continues to grow and play. For more information, visit www.LEGOmindstorms.com
FIRST LEGO League Inspires Future Innovators for 10 Years
FIRST LEGO League (FLL), an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children, was created when inventor Dean Kamen and LEGO Group owner, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, were united by their common belief that fun and learning go hand-in-hand to inspire children to accomplish anything.
Merging Kamen’s interest in getting children excited about science and technology with the LEGO Group’s new LEGO MINDSTORMS technology, FLL engages children to work together in teams on authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics exploration to design, build, and program LEGO robots to complete missions based on real-world challenges. Eight weeks of the team’s research and planning culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Students leave with a sense of accomplishment, depth of knowledge and confidence in an
issue of real-world significance and a strong interest in science, technology and engineering – but they don’t realize it because it was playful and fun.
FLL started in 1998 with 2 pilot tournaments and 1,600 American students. Ten years later, more than 10,000 teams – more than 100,000 students – in 38 countries will compete in hundreds of qualifying events and Championship Tournaments. For more information, visit www.firstlegoleague.org
Find us on Facebook - Add your comments about this story.