Friday, July 3, 2015


I admit I am a little late to the table (lab table?) only just discovering the August 2014 LEGO Research Institute and its women scientists: astronomer, chemist, and paleontologist. I heard about it a couple weeks ago, possibly through the #distractinglysexy Twitter feed in response to Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt’s comments about “girl” scientists crying in the lab and making male lab workers fall in love with them (;

LEGO Research Institute

Coincidently, right after receiving the Research Institute last week through Amazon (sold out through LEGO), I was going through a pile (big pile) of unread Eos newspapers, the weekly, now biweekly and online (, newspaper of the American Geophysical Union (, and found a September 2014 article about the Dutch geoscientist, Ellen Kooijman, who designed the Research Institute set ( Kooijman and others had observed that few female LEGO people came in adventure or career settings. Scientific American had a blog post just two weeks ago about the evolution of STEM professional LEGO women since the first minifigure in 2013 (

Designing LEGO sets in her spare time under the pseudonym, Alatariel, Kooijman works through LEGO Ideas (, a LEGO site for fans to propose new sets. If proposals gather 10,000 votes, they are reviewed by LEGO for possible production. Kooijman describes the evolution of the Research Institute also in her blog post at and an interview at

Kooijman’s next set to hit stores, on August 1, is the Big Bang Theory, based on the popular television show, and set in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment ( “Science Adventures” ( is another proposed LEGO set by Kooijman that is in review, having reached 10,000 votes in less than two months. This set includes an archeologist, wildlife biologist with tiger, and a field geologist with outcrop, hammer, geologic map, and Brunton compass.

“Research geology” ( is a proposed set by another designer that still needs about 6600 votes to reach LEGO review. It has two vignettes 1) an outcrop with male and female geologists and a dog: “there's always the obligatory geology dog” (been there, done that, love that!), and 2) a microscope lab setting with SEM and light microscope (I can fantasize or play that the petrographic microscope is reflected light, like that used in organic petrology since one needs reflected light to also check polished SEM mounts).

Some STEM professionals, including women, appear in the LEGO Minifigure sets ( I also bought another separate woman paleontologist minifigure (Collectible Minifigures Series 13) because she is wearing field gear, and, without her dinosaur bone and ammonite, can double as any field geologist before the “Science Adventures” set is released.  I used her for “scale” today in my #FridayFold tweet!

 Now to put together that Lego Research Institute dino skeleton. . .

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