LEGO is celebrating women’s contributions to modern science and space flight with a new set called Women of NASA. The kit was designed by science writer and editor Maia Weinstock, and chosen from LEGO’s Ideas fan-submitted projects. It includes Margaret Hamilton and Apollo Guidance Computer code books, Nancy Grace Roman and the Hubble space telescope, along with Sally Ride and Mae Jemison and the Space Shuttle Challenger. The vital role women play in scientific discovery and space flight is horribly underrepresented so it was awesome seeing this kit get the thumbs up in the Ideas program, and now get an official launch date. Woman of NASA includes 231 pieces and will be available on November 1st for US$24.99.
LEGO and Star Wars are a pretty awesome combination, and one of their newest games takes that to a wonderfully fun new level with a virtual reality experience. The game is called The Last Jedi 3D Experience and it lets you build ships the Resistance and First Order use in their battle for control of the galaxy. The game plays in a web browser so you don’t need to install any special apps, and if you have Google Cardboard or View-Master VR for your iPhone it’s over-the-top cool. The Last Jedi 3D Experience is free and you can check out the game at the LEGO website.
LEGO always has something cool for Force Friday, and this year it’s over the top awesome: A new Star Wars Millennium Falcon. It’s the biggest official LEGO kit to date at 7,541 pieces. You can swap out parts to for The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens versions, and the interior has details like the blaster cannon cockpit, space chess table, smuggling compartment in the floor, and even Han and Leia’s make out room. The new LEGO Millennium Falcon is priced at US$799.99 and will be available on October 1st.
A tiny Lego Mac called Byte Edition v3.0 is being sold online by PowerPig. It features a mouse, keyboard, and the iconic “hello” screen display. You can even open it up to reveal interior details like a detailed logic board, drive assembly, and analog board. The dimensions are (Computer): 3.62″ tall x 3.15″ wide x 2.83″ deep (92 mm x 80 mm x 72 mm). For being a small toy, there is a whopping 322 parts in total. You might need to grab a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass before you build it. Go to the PowerPig website and preorder it for US$78.50. It’s expected to start shipping on July 27 and you can only have one shipment per order.
The ability to control external devices like drones, robots, and musical instruments opens the software—and Apple iPads—to a greater role in maker spaces and other STEM/STEAM education environments.
LEGO and Star Wars go together like, well, LEGO and Star Wars. So of course we’re seeing plenty of LEGO recreations of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser trailer. My favorite so far comes from Workshop LEGO Animations, and it’s shot-for-shot spot on. Rolling LEGO oceans, LEGO Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters, Rey, Finn, and Poe. I love it so much I want Disney to make all the Star Wars trailers with LEGO.
LEGO and the Raspberry Pi are both awesome, and combined to make a working classic Mac? Totally brilliant. That’s what Jannis Hermanns did with a Raspberry Pi Zero, an e-paper display, and NES Mac software. His little LEGO Mac even has Wi-Fi, which hadn’t been invented when Apple introduced the computer in 1984. Sadly, there is a Dremel tool involved to make it all come together, but the end result looks great—and at about $100 for all the parts costs a lot less that the original Macintosh.
It’s no secret I have a serious love for LEGO, so it’s great when someone turns me on to something that makes my bricks even cooler—like Brixo. The LEGO-compatible bricks they designed are metal coated so they conduct electricity, which means you can drive motors and turn on lights in your creations without needing any wires. They designed bricks with lights, sensors, switches, motors, and batteries so you can build most anything you can imagine. Brixo’s kits start at US$35 and they’re available for pre-order now.
LEGO and tape are two words I hadn’t thought to put together until I saw Nimuno Loops, which is exactly that: LEGO-compatible tape, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s tape with the right size studs so you can stick LEGO bricks to it. Right now it’s an Indigogo campaign that’s gone over its funding goal by 9,320%, which is both awesome and insane. The tape is two studs wide and whatever length you want. You can bend it, cut it, and move it around thanks to its adhesive backing. Pricing starts at US$11 for two 6.5-foot rolls and you can choose from several colors. After something like five different people told me about Nimuno Loops LEGO-compatible tape, I knew I just had to share.
The LEGO Batman movie is out, and it shows us just how important Siri is: She’s the computer system of choice for Gotham’s elite vigilante crime fighters. Luckily, we don’t have to live in Gotham, become emotionally scarred orphans watching our parents die, or spend gobs of money on devices named bat…something. We can get Siri to treat us like the bat heroes we want to be right on our iPhones. Just press and hold your iPhone’s Home button to activate Siri, and get your Batman on by saying, “Hey, computer,” or “Hey, ‘puter.” Siri will respond with bat-appropriate comments, first try.
LAS VEGAS – LEGO has a cool new educational kit called Boost that teaches kids how to build and code robots. Jesper Bang Jensen shows Jeff Gamet how it works at CES 2017.