Soaring to the No. 1 spot in toy sales in a matter of hours, LEGO has yet another massive hit on its hands with Women of NASA. The new figures are modeled on astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jamison, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton. The women all played crucial roles in the US space program’s dynamic lift-off and they will now be known farther and wider as kids are clamoring for the LEGO set. The set has 231 pieces and it sold out fast at Amazon. Don’t worry, LEGO will deliver more. Below are FIVE FUN FACTS about the ‘Women Of NASA’ LEGO set (image directly below links to Amazon).
1) Lego has been taking suggestions for new toys from the public for a while now. (You can submit your LEGO idea here.) But the presentation of the ‘Women Of NASA‘ idea had a special start. The space women idea was pitched by the editor of MIT News, Maia Weinstock. That’s MIT as in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among the most highly regarded engineering schools on the planet. With Lego opening the door to inspired product ideas, Weinstock walked right through with her all-female gang of high achievers. People reacted with huge support of the idea.
— Maia Weinstock (@20tauri) October 25, 2017
2) LEGO said yes because of three main notions: first as a business they recognized that this would sell based on all the support it won. Second they loved the educational value of the project. Third, they appreciated the humor — it had personality, not just equations. LEGO responded: “You have ROCKETED your way to the 10,000 supporter milestone, seemingly supported by the entire internet, and you’ve done so by educating us about these particular women’s achievements in the U.S. space program and STEM in general…”
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) November 1, 2017
3) The original pitch also included Katherine Johnson, the mathematician who went on to win the National Medal of Freedom. Johnson graduated from high school at 14 and college at 18. The story goes that even after NASA started using high-powered computers for calculations, “John Glenn requested that she personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7 – the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth.” Johnson wasn’t included in the new LEGO set — contractual terms couldn’t be agreed upon, apparently — but her depiction in the film Hidden Figures will still inspire kids.
4) It’s not just the four amazing women. The Women Of NASA LEGO set comes with three NASA-themed builds, or dioramas, for kids to see the women in action. One contains the Hubble Telescope (well a mini version!). Place Nancy Roman near the Hubble — without Roman’s contribution the Hubble Telescope might have remained a dream instead of a reality.
5) LEGO’s effort here, along with Weinstock’s inspiration, shows not only that women are making massive strides in the quest for equality today. What the Women Of NASA LEGO set demonstrates is something even more important: that women have been making equal contributions since time immemorial. What hasn’t happened in equal measure is the telling of women’s success stories and the revealing of their contributions. LEGO’s Women Of NASA adds to the important narrative about women’s achievements, a space story that got a nice jumpstart with Hidden Figures.