Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Everything is awesome for the Women of NASA Lego set

A Lego set that celebrates the contributions of NASA's female pioneers will soon be available for children who dream of space and are interested in STEM fields.

Lego has announced that "Women of NASA" — a set featuring women who played important roles in the U.S. space program — will be developed. The proposed set, the final design of which is not yet available, includes figurines of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Katherine Johnson, who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures. That's according to the project's Lego Ideas page, which begins: "Ladies rock outer space!"

According to CNN, the Women of NASA set was created as part of Lego Ideas, which allows fans and users to come up with ideas for Lego sets. This project was created by Maia Weinstock, a science editor and writer at MIT News.

"We're really excited to be able to introduce Maia's Women of NASA set for its inspirational value as well as build and play experience," a Lego Ideas post states.

The proposed Women of NASA Lego lineup also includes:

• Nancy Grace Roman: Also known as "Mother of Hubble," a nickname she earned for her role in the Hubble Space Telescope

• Mae Jemison: The first African-American woman in space

• Margaret Hamilton: A pioneering computer scientist.

In an email to the Washington Post, Weinstock wrote that this was not the first time she had offered a project for the Lego Ideas contest. With Women of NASA, though, she was able to combine two of her passions: space exploration and the history of women in STEM, she wrote.

"Among other things, both subjects have healthy social media presence, and I figured combining the two could leverage those similar passions in others," she wrote. "There are a number of books and documentaries on women at NASA that I've read and seen, but also a couple of photos — the two I re-create as vignettes of Katherine Johnson and Margaret Hamilton — I knew I wanted to do in Lego anyway, so this just pulled them all together."

Personally, Weinstock wrote, she doesn't have a favorite figurine in the set, but she did note that Ride — someone Weinstock looked up to when she was growing up — was the first that she created.

"What she did to support women and girls in the STEM fields is remarkable. . . . I knew I wanted to include her because she's already fairly famous, so that would help the set gain some traction, but also because of all of the work she's done post-NASA, to encourage young people to go into science and (engineering)," she wrote.

Weinstock wrote in her email that it is "critical to have toys that girls can look at and play with and think, 'that's me!" or 'that could be me!' " When people read about or see the set, she wrote, Weinstock hopes that they will learn about the women portrayed in it and their stories and contributions.

"But I also just hope that girls and boys will take away from it the sense that women belong in engineering, in mathematics," Weinstock wrote. "I hope in some small way it helps to inspire the kids of the future!"

It is unclear when the Women of NASA set will be available in stores. The Lego Ideas website notes that the company is still working on final product design and pricing.

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