A Lego Legacy

LEGO. Who knows how often they’ve been the starting blocks for careers in engineering or other sciences? Thanks to an exhibit co-sponsored by APEGGA this summer in Edmonton, even more youngsters can dream up buildings and build dreams based the colorful interconnecting plastic blocks.

With support from APEGGA and the Alberta Research Council, Invention Adventure runs from mid-May until Aug. 31 at the Provincial Museum of Alberta. It features an extensive array of LEGO-based machines, robots and structures to be seen, but, more importantly, to permit interaction and innovation by visitors.

The exhibit, which has been travelling to various North American centres since 1994, is designed to inspire interest, particularly by children, in science and technology; to encourage problem-solving and inventive thinking; and to provide an enjoyable learning experience for participants of all ages.

The term "moving exhibit" assumes added meaning at the "earthquake table" where builders can test their structures to withstand vibration, and at another exhibit where visitors are challenged to navigate a robot through a "Martian" landscape, using voice commands.

On hand for the exhibit kick-off, Alberta Minister of Community Development Shirley McClellan thanked the exhibit sponsors for "investing in our children". She noted the close links between use of LEGO and sciences and math, and how the building system opens new opportunities for creativity. In comments directed specifically to Grade 3 students from Edmonton’s Afton Elementary School, present for the launch, the minister said: "If you build with LEGO, you know it also lets you solve problems. I hope it might spark some interest in your minds for careers in science, mathematics and technology."

APEGGA Councillor Gordon Stewart, P.Eng., also present for the Edmonton unveiling said: "We feel this is an exhibit which offers hands-on experience for visitors of all ages. All who come to visit this exhibit will have the experience to engineer their own creations and to learn more about the science of structures, robotics and simple machines. More importantly, they will see that science is interesting and that it is fun."

On May 16 and 17, the first weekend of the exhibition, nearly 4,000 visitors came out to discover the wonders of LEGO and create their own Invention Adventure.