In my write-up of Lego KidsFest Chicago, I mentioned that the event left me with a deeper appreciation of the art and science of Legos. Once a child goes beyond the mere kit instructions, there is so much creative exploration that takes place. And whether the child realizes it or not, there's a lot of engineering and physics, not to mention the ability to visualize objects in three dimensions, that goes into building a cool creation.
Which explains why all I ever build is really tall, square buildings.
Speaking of engineering and physics, I had the chance to talk to one of the programmers behind LEGO Universe, the new MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game). Based on what I saw at KidsFest, it should be called a MPMOG, Massively Popular Multiplayer Online Game).
Two notes about the video:
1) My display screen was not working, so I apologize for the drift. Though now you know how a person only five feet tall sees the world.
2) The video gets a little commercial at points as Michael explains the game. I wish I had captured what he said after I turned off the camera, which was that he wants kids to know that a love of math and science can lead to really exciting careers.
I hope Michael doesn't mind that I called him a geek. After all, it's the new black. And I think this might make for a good series here.
Some quick facts about LEGO Universe. It requires a paid subscription, internet access and a DVD that costs $39.99(!). This game is designed for 8-10 year olds think: too adventurous for Club Penguin, but too young for World of Warcraft. However, like the real LEGO bricks, this game is drawing in an older than expected crowd. Because it's designed for younger children, there are parental control options as well as 24/7/365 moderators, but I advise you to look into this yourself and make sure your concerns are addressed before you sign on your little one.
Other cool resources that build on the science of LEGO bricks (though not formally affiliated with The LEGO Group):
Play-Well TEKnologies (Teaching Engineering to Kids)
An organization that provides fun for after-school enrichment, parties, summer camps and home school classes in select states, including Illinois, New York, Colorado, California and Oregon.
First Lego League
A robotics program designed to get kids excited about science and technology. It's part of a family of program ranging from the Junior First Lego League for kids in grades K -3 to the First Robotics Competition for grades 9 -12. If we weren't up to our ears in Science Olympiad, I'd dig around to see if there are active groups in my area.
Do you love Legos, too?
And would you like to see more "When Geeks Grow Up" features?