Growing Bones with LEGO, A “Serious LEGO” Movement


I love LEGO. If you’re reading this, chances are that you do too, and your loving memories and respect for those tiny plastic blocks probably just went up a few notches after watching the video above. Now that you’ve seen it, LEGO isn’t just about creative play anymore: it can help scientists change the world.

We’ve all seen some pretty amazing examples of LEGO before (including another post from here on breaking the world record on solving Rubik’s cubes), but they’ve typically been a hobbyist’s project or a marketing outcome. This sort of application is fascinating not just because it’s different, but because it makes perfect sense, and on further research, it’s not just Cambridge researchers that are doing this:

I think it’s genius. While one can make the case that researchers are spending valuable PhD time in building/testing a LEGO system as opposed paying for it to be done, any equipment malfunction can be debugged immediately, and the spare parts are quite cheap. It’s also a mindset: knowing that you can dream and build what you need without going through the hassle of obtaining expensive equipment (sometimes prohibitively so) is an invaluable point of view to have.

The photos above come from a KickStarter project to build larger, more stable baseplates for the Kickstarter-starter’s own lab projects and for labs that are using LEGO robotics to build their own systems. I think it’s the start of things to come: more and more people starting to realize how LEGO can help them with their lives/home/work, and there will be continued efforts to address some of the shortcomings of using LEGO beyond its original scope of sparking creativity.

Know any other examples of “serious LEGO”? Please feel free to share!

(P.S. Given the attention, I thought to mention I’m not a LEGO spokesperson or one of the Kickstarter project – not getting compensation for any of this, except the knowledge that this could help spark some new thoughts for you :P )

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    • Minute Bot

      Well, if you don’t have any other ideas, maybe I will spark a discussion sharing another one from my sleeve :) It is a bearing. Watch the movie, what do you think of it?