By Robby 10/31/02
What are Legos?
Where do Legos
How do Legos work?
How do Legos change?
How do Legos change us?
How do we change Legos?
Why do we use Legos?
What are Legos' costs and
How do we evaluate Legos?
The future Legos
Legos are a construction toy. There are many
different pieces, which you use to build anything you can think of. You can
build buildings, cars, planes, ships, space-stations and lots more. There are
even Lego people to include in your Lego scenes. They are for people over three
years old and there is even a type of Legos for kids under three.
do Legos Come From?
Legos were invented in Europe in 1955 by the Lego
company. Lego means "play well" in Danish and "put together" in Latin. At the
time when Legos were invented, Ole Kirk Christiansen was the president of the
Lego company. Lego bricks were thought of and made a few years after the Lego
company bought its first plastic. They quickly spread all over the world. They
came to the United States in 1961. They have now been around for 47 years and
are a popular toy for all ages.
How do Legos work?
Each Lego brick has studs (bumps), on the top of
them. They also have couplings (holes), on the bottom. The studs fit into these
couplings and hold the two bricks together.
Each stud is exactly the same size on every brick. The
couplings on each brick are exactly the same size, too. There are also a few
other kinds of Legos and here is how they work...
(The RCX brick and Components)
One of the other kinds of Legos is Lego Mindstorms. This type of
Legos has Lego electric motors, sensors and even an RCX brick, which is a small
computer and you hook up motors and sensors to it with special wires that send
electricity from the RCX through them to the motor or sensor. Sensors take in
data from their surroundings, processes the data, and then according to your
program, either turns a motor on or off, makes a sound, or turns a lamp on or
off. You use the motors to make your creations move and the sensors to help your
creation do what you want it to do. First, you create a program for your
invention. The way you program with Lego Mindstorms is by dragging icons into
the order you want (on your computer). Each icon has a different command on it
such as On A, which would turn on motor A. The sensor icons are like this: If
Touch 1 = Pressed. Then you put an icon below that. For example, if you put an
On B icon below the sensor icon, then when the touch sensor was pressed, motor B
would turn on. After you finish dragging the icons into the order you want them,
you choose what slot you want to download your program to. There are five slots.
However, you cannot download a program to slot 1 because slot 1 is the test slot
(during while you are programming, you can test motors, sounds, and sensors to
make sure they work right). You then save your program, and download your
program from the computer, out the Infrared Tower, and into the RCX brick. Then
your creation is ready to go!
Here are the sensors
(From left to right: Touch sensor, Light sensor, Temperature sensor, and
Another kind of electric Legos is Lego Dacta. It has a big
Interface Board with eight motor ports and eight sensor ports. It has rotation
sensors, temperature sensors, touch sensors, and light sensors. It has also has
lamps and sound devices. You program Lego Dacta creations with special code.
Here is a sample Dacta program involving some basic codes are:
On Blink = Tells the computer which program to use (Blink
being the program)
TTO "lampb = Tells the computer to connect to whatever device
you have selected (in this case it is lamp B)
onFor 5 = Tells the computer to turn lamp B on for however
many tenths of a second you want (in this case it is 5 tenths of a second, half
wait 5 = Tells the computer to stop a motor, stop a sound
device, or stop a lamp for however many tenths of a second you want (in this
case it is five tenths of a second).
onFor 5 = Tells the computer to turn lamp B on for
however many tenths of a second you want (in this case it is 5 tenths of a
second, half a second)
Off "lampb = Tells the computer to turn off whatever device
you have chosen (in this case it is lamp B)
End = Tells the computer to end the program
This program would make lamp B blink on, off, and back on, and
would then be over. This is a very basic program. However, you can make much
more detailed and complicated programs with greater effects. After you are done
with the program, you hook up your motors, lamps, sound devices, and sensors to
the Interface Board so the electricity can run into your devices and make the
The third main kind of Legos is for kids under three years old.
These bricks are called Duplos. They are extra big so little kids can't put them
in their mouth and choke on them. They use the same stud and coupling system as
the regular, smaller Legos. They only major difference between the two types is
the size of the bricks.
There is also another kind of Legos. However, it is not made by
the Lego company. This kind of Legos is called Mega Blocks. Mega Blocks are a
copy and an immitation of Legos. They use a stud and coupling system, but
sometimes, the size of the studs is a little different. Because of this, Mega
Blocks don't stick together very well. There are also no electrical sets for
Legos have changed a lot since they were invented.
When they first came out, there were only regular Lego bricks. There weren't any
sets. They also didn't have electric kits.
There were no special pieces in the beginning of Legos. There were only
plain old bricks like 4x2 stud bricks. There weren't any Lego people. There
weren't any Lego wheels. There also weren't any transparent pieces or decorative
pieces (such as Lego antennas). When you went to the store to buy Legos, you
would buy a big bin full of Lego bricks and bricks only. However, since there
were no special pieces or anything, Legos were pretty inexpensive. Even though
there weren't any high-tec pieces when they first came out, Legos were still fun
and really challenged your creativity and thinking skills!
There were no themed sets when Legos first came out. Thus, there were
also no themes. There wasn't Lego Soccer or Lego Racers. This
might have been better than having sets because sets make people only want to
make things by directions and then they aren't being as creative.
Legos were very simple when they first came out and, of course, there
were no electrical sets. There was no Lego Mindstorms or anything like
that. These sets have only just recently came out. You program Lego robots to
move and do stuff with Lego Mindstorms. Although electric kits make Legos
more fun, Legos are still a lot of fun without them. The Lego company probably
made electric Lego kits so kids could learn about programming a gear ratios.
Also, electric sets would allow kids to have cars that moved without being
pushed. This would allow kids to create a lot more things and would be really
fun to. Because kids would see the electric sets in stores and think they were
cool, they would probably buy them. Then the Lego company would make more money.
So, the Lego company was probably motivated to make electric sets because of
money and making buyers happy.
Legos have certainly changed a bunch. Now, there are lots of different
sets and themes. There are thousands of different pieces. There are even really
cool electric Lego kits. Legos will keep on changing and getting better, or
worse. They will probably get better by making lots of new kinds of sets and
kits. However, the way they could get worse is maybe in order to create these
pieces, it might take special factories that pollute the environment a lot.
How do Legos change us?
Legos change people and especially kids in many ways. Lego Technic kits
and Lego Mindstorms teach kids about mechanical advantage, gear ratios and how
real things work in life. Regular Legos teach kids how to build walls and houses
just like in real life. Duplos give little kids head-starts in building. Legos
also help adults study things or make designs of things that are really going to
The Legos that change kids the most are probably Technic and Robotics
Invention Legos. These Legos teach kids about how things work in real life.
These kits use motors, gears, sensors, pulleys, wormgears and lots of other
special pieces. Kids can learn about Mechanical Advantage and gear ratios. They
learn how to make a vehicle have torque (power), or speed. They get to
experiment with things and figure out what works and what doesn't. After they
have made their creation, they get to program it on the computer to do what they
want. For example, you could program a Lego car to start going forward and put a
touch sensor on the front. If the touch sensor hits a wall, you could make it so
the car goes backwards after it hits. Technic kits teach kids how to use gears,
motors and sensors just like in real live cars or robots. They could help kids
get a career in programming or building robots and other things. They could even
become an electrical engineer if they played with Technic motors and sensors.
Technic kits help kids learn and could help get them a good future too.
Regular Legos also help kids and teach them things. With Legos, if you
want to make something strong, the best way is to overlap the bricks, just like
in a real live brick wall. This could help a kid become a builder. The kid would
have wall building skills, so he/she could build a lot of different kinds of
buildings and could get a good career such as an architect or a builder.
Duplos also effect kids. Since they are meant for little kids, they can
give these little kids head-starts in building. When the real little kids are
playing with Legos, they won't really know how to build things using the overlap
method, but as they get older, they will probably continue to play with Duplos
and will start learning how to make things stronger. Eventually, they will
probably buy regular Legos and start to play with those. And after that, they
might start playing with Technic Legos and get into programming. That way, these
kids could learn how to build good, strong buildings and get a career in
building, architecture or something else related.
Legos don't only help kids; they help adults too. If a scientist wants
to study a specific landform (such as a mountain) without actually being there,
he/she can make a model of the mountain out of Legos. They would have to make it
accurate, but they would then be able to study the mountain. This is one way
Legos help adults. Another way Legos help adults is by helping adults make
designs of things. For example, if someone is going to build a house, an adult
could make a design of the house they're going to build out of Legos and then
build the building while refering to the design they built out of Legos. In this
way, Legos serve as additional information besides a blue-print. And, adults
also play with legos, just like kids.
The last and obvious thing that Legos help people do is have more fun.
Kids have fun building lego inventions and figuring out how to build it so it
won't fall apart. Adults have fun playing with Legos and figuring out how to
build a building with them.
Legos change kids by helping them have a good career or by helping them
have fun. Legos change adults by giving them a good way to plan how to build
things. Legos also help adults have fun. Legos definitely change us a lot.
How do we change Legos?
People change Legos sometimes. Sometimes, we need to make a change
because of safety. Sometimes, we think it would be better if we made a certain
change so we make that change. And sometimes, we change the kind of Legos we
have so more people can play with them. Also, people change Legos by making good
advertisements for them.
Usually when a new product comes out, things happen with it and we need
to change it. This was so with Legos. Lots of little kids were choking on Legos
and sometimes dying. This was a serious problem. So, a Lego rule was made for
safety. Now, printed on every box, is a notice that says: CHOKING HAZARD, NOT
FOR CHILDREN UNDER 3 YEARS OF AGE. This way, people are warned that there is a
choking risk for little kids. So, if someone buys Legos for a kid under three,
it is at their own risk. This rule was made to make Legos safer.
Sometimes, people think if we change something in a certain way, it
will make that thing better than it was before. So, we change it in that way.
With Legos, at first, they were just plastic blocks that you stacked on top of
each other. Then, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, got an idea. What if Legos
stuck together so they didn't fall down too easily? So, he invented a system
that would make all the bricks stick together. It was called, 'the stud and
coupling' system. The way it works is, there are studs (bumps) on the top of
each brick and couplings (holes) on the bottom of each brick. The studs fit into
the couplings and hold the bricks together. This way, if one of your Lego
creations gets bumped, it is less likely that it will break.
Sometimes, we change things so more people can use them. Because
regular Legos are for kids over three years old, that meant that little kids
could not play with Legos. It was safer, but they still couldn't play with
them. So, the Lego company decided to make Duplos. Duplos are Legos, only they
are much bigger than regular Legos. Because they are so big, it prevents little
kids from puttin them in their mouth. That way, they can't choke. Duplos use
the stud and coupling system and are great for young kids.
Marketing is a big part of changing Legos. By having good
advertisements and good marketers, Legos can become more popular. If Legos are
more popular, the Lego company makes more money. This only happens, though, if
the marketing is good. So, the Lego company hires professional marketers to help
them. These marketers change Legos a lot! If there were no marketers or no good
marketers to advertise Legos, they might not be as popular. If they weren't as
popular, the Lego company probably wouldn't bother to make as many sets. If
Legos were extremely unpopular, the Lego company might even stop making Legos
all together. That would be a major change for Legos!
We have changed Legos a lot in the past. We are changing them right
now. And, we will probably change Legos in the future. We change them because
of the reasons above and other ones. We change them to make them better and
Why do we use
People use Legos for many reasons. People use Legos to have fun. People
use them to help them. Also, people use Legos to teach.
The most common reason people play with Legos is to have fun and to
entertain themselves. This is a reason why almost everyone uses them. You can
build many things and it is very fun to be able to create almost anything you
want. People with electric kits can entertain themselves by having an electric
robot perform a trick for them. Most kids usually only use Legos for fun and to
make them HAPPY!
Some people use Legos to help them do something. Some people use Legos
to help them make a model for something. For example, if a kid needs to show a
scene from a book he just read for school, he can make a scene out of Legos.
Another example, is if a scientist wants to study a landform such as a mountain,
he can make an accurate model of the mountain, and then study it without having
to actually go to the mountain to study it.
Other people use Legos to help them make a design for something they are
going to build in real life. Say an architect has to design a kitchen for
someone. He can build a replica of the new kitchen with Legos. He can then draw
the design on paper and give it to a builder who will build the kitchen. In this
case, Legos help the architect visualize the kitchen better than if they only
used paper and a pencil.
People can also use Legos to do something for them. If they have Lego
Mindstorms, they can build a robot that brings them food (they would have to
have a lot of pieces!), a robot that pushes buttons for them (like the buttons
on a TV remote), or a robot that reminds them to take a pill or vitamin with a
friendly beep that doesn't stop until they have taken the pill. People can also
use Lego Mindstorms to do many other things for them. Some of these things that
the robots do, only lazy people and handicapped people would need or want (like
the remote-button presser robot). However, whatever way you use Legos to help
you, they can help a lot.
The last main reason people use Legos for is for a curriculum in
school. There are two types of Legos, which are especially designed for
classrooms. These types are Robolab and Lego Dacta. Robolab is the same as Lego
Mindstorms except it has a few more pieces and comes with more than one RCX
brick so it is better for classrooms. Lego Dacta uses a BIG RCX brick called the
Interface Board. They both are used in classrooms to teach kids about how gears,
pulleys, motors, and sensors work. Kids also learn about mechanical advantage.
In this part, kids learn that a small gear on the motor shaft, connected to a
big gear, gives a vehicle tork (power, but not always speed). They also learn
that a big gear on the motor shaft, connected to a small gear, gives a vehicle
speed (fast, but not always powerful, so if a vehicle with speed gets to a hill,
it might not be able to go up it). The kids also learn how to program their
vehicles, which gives them programming skills.
Legos are used by people for many reasons. People use them for fun, for
help, and to learn for the most part. However, there are lots of other small
reasons people use them.
What are Legos' Costs and Benefits
There are many costs and benefits of
Legos. They are dangerous in some ways. They are good in other ways.
Sometimes, you have to consider if you should buy them or not.
|1. Little kids can put regular Legos in their mouth
and then choke on the Lego. Sometimes, they can die from choking on Legos.
||1. Legos give kids a good, fun alternative instead of
watching TV or playing video games.
|2. It takes big factories to produce all the Legos.
These factories pollute the atmoshpere.
||2. Legos can be used for a fun curriculum in school
that is very helpful in teaching kids about mechanics.
|3. Lego sets are very expensive, so not everybody can
||3. Legos help people study things or places by
serving as models of that place or thing. They also can be used to design
|4. Since Legos are so popular, other companies have
regonized this success and have made their own versions of Legos. So, if
someone new to Legos goes to buy Legos, they might accidentally buy an
immitation of Legos. So, they could be getting ripped off.
||4. Legos give kids early mechanical skills and
building skills that could help them get a good career later on in life.
|5. Each Lego set has the pieces in it divided up into
sections. The pieces are divided with plastic bag-type things. The plastic
is harmful to the atmosphere, animals and little kids can suffocate with
them, and they are a waste of plastic. They are made so that when they need
certain pieces for a certain set, they can just whip out the right bag of
||5. Legos give kids and adults something fun to do.
|6. Some of the Lego pieces in sets are very small.
Because of their size, they can get lost easily. Sometimes, they get lost in
the carpet. Then, when you are walking on the carpet, you might step on that
piece and it HURTS! Also, then you don't have that piece anymore and some
small Lego pieces are really cool.
||6. Legos allow people to be very creative and allow
them to use their imagination.
How do we evaluate
People evaluate Legos in many different ways.
Different people evaluate Legos in different ways. Here are the main things
people look at when evaluating Legos:
This is probably the most important thing to look
at when you are evaluating Legos. This is because if they are not too safe,
than they are probably not good. There are two different kinds of safety that
you need to look at.
The first kind of safety is for how safe it is for
people. Legos are pretty safe and there are warnings on all Lego sets that say
Legos are for kids over three years old. However, sometimes, kids under three
get Legos anyways. The main hazard of Legos to little kids is choking risk. If
they are supervised, the choking risk shouldn't be too high because you can
stop them before they even put the piece all the way in their mouth. But, if
the kids are not supervised, they might put the Legos in their mouth. They
then can choke on the piece, and if no one realizes for a long time, that kid
The second kind of safety of Legos you need to look
at when evaluating them is how safe they are for the environment. There aren't
too many harms to the environment that Legos cause and they aren't too big,
but they are still harmful. The two main hazards to the environment from Legos
effect the atmosphere. The first one comes from the Lego factories. It takes
really big factories to produce the millions of Legos made each year. These
factories pollute the skies and help contribute to global warming. The second
main hazard from Legos also effects the environment. The Lego pieces, (as
Cost and Benefeits) there are seperate packs of pieces in Lego sets. These
packs are packaged in plastic packaging. The plastic can suffocate pets and
little kids, it harms the atmosphere and also contributes to global warming,
and it is a waste of plastic. This category is probably the first thing you
should look at when evaluating Legos.
This is not as important as other things you need
to look at when evaluating technologies, but it is still a factor. When using
this to evaluate a technology, it usually tells you whether the technology
will make a lot of money or not. If a technology isn't too popular, it
probably isn't going to make as much money. However, sometimes, this is not
true. Sometimes, if you are evaluating it when it first comes out, it may not
have had time to earn popularity. You have to consider this when you are
evaluating a technology to see if it will make money. Sometimes, the "shopping
crowd" doesn't recognize a good technology when they see one. This may be
because they don't notice it or it doesn't have a flashy packaging that stands
out, or if it has poor advertising. Usually, popularity doesn't have much to
do with whether a technology is good or bad.
Are Legos affordable? This is an important
question to ask when evaluating Legos. Why? Because, if only a few people can
afford Legos, then all the other families in the world won't have the
opportunity to play with Legos. Also, then Legos wouldn't make much money
either. Legos are expensive, but not too expensive that almost everyone can't
afford them. They have to make a profit and that's why they cost as much as
How well do Legos work in comparison to other
brick making brands?
This is a very important question to ask
when evaluating Legos. This is because you need to know what brand of blocks
to buy when you are shopping. You need to know if one type of bricks stick
together better than another kind. Otherwise, you might buy a kind of bricks
that barely fit together and don't come apart once you get them together.
That is why this question is important. Mega Blocks, for example, don't stick
together very well and when you get them together, they don't come apart.
Legos are the first kind of bricks of its kind and, surprisingly, work the
best. This is surprising because usually with toys, it seems they come out
with better versions as time passes. However, Legos are an example of a
technology that is better than the newer versions of it.
We need to ask about this when we are evaluating
Legos. If a mother is shopping for a type of bricks for her child, she needs
to know, which type of brick will give her kid the most freedom to build
anything. For example, if a kid wants to build a plane out of bricks, maybe
one type of bricks doesn't have any of the pieces the kid needs to build the
plane, but another kind has all the pieces the kid needs. The mother would
certainly want to buy the type that has all the pieces needed to build it.
So, if you are buying a type of brick, try to find out which kind has a bigger
variety of pieces. Mega Blocks have a lot of pieces, but Legos probably have
more. Legos have a lot of variety, but there are other kinds of bricks too
which have a lot of pieces. But, I would recommend buying Legos if you're
looking for flexible bricks.
When you are evaluating Legos, you need to look at
if there are other brands that have a lot more better pieces. If another
brand has better pieces, a kid would probably go for that brand. So, you need
to look at all the sets made by each brand and then decide which brand is
better. Mega Blocks have people who's arms move outward instead of just
around. Nilo makes really huge baseplates. Legos have lots of space pieces.
You need to see which brand has more and better pieces, but also, you should
interview kids about which pieces they think would be the most fun to play
with. Then, you should make your decision.
One of the factors to finding which brand of bricks
is better, is which brand is the most functional. For example, if one
brand can be used for building and making models, but another can only
be used for models, the first brand is probably better. Most types of bricks
have many uses, but some bricks work better for these uses. For example, Mega
Blocks work better for building than they do for making models. Legos work
well for both, but they too work better for building. However, beecause Legos
have so many pieces, you can make pretty accurate models of things. There are
also other kinds of bricks that probably work better than Legos for making
models. So, if you want to find out which type has more pieces, look around
for different types of bricks.
Costs and Benefits
This is another one of the most important things
you should look at when you are evaluating Legos, or any other technology. If
a technology has more costs than benefits, it is probably not too good. If a
technology has about an equal amount of costs and benefits, then it is
probably a pretty good technology. If a technology has way more benefits than
costs, than it is probably a really good technology. However, these three
rules are not always true.
As seen in
Costs and Benefits, Legos are well balanced. So, they are either a good
technology, or a really good technology because most of their costs aren't too
bad and some of them are rare. Also, the benefits are strong.
So, if you are evaluating Legos, remember to use
these questions. You should probably look at Safety first. There are also
many other questions you could ask. Maybe, you could even try contacting the
head of the company that makes each type of brick.
The Future Legos
Click to see the
Timeline of Legos
I think Legos will have changed a lot 40 years from
now. There will be many new pieces. There will be new things for Lego
Mindstorms. There will be a lot more things you will be able to build with
I think there will be thousands of new Lego pieces
forty years from now. I think that there will be lots of new types of wheels
and bricks. There might be wheels that allow Lego creations to drive in
water. Maybe these wheels will stick to the floor under the water so that the
vehicle is completely underwater and can just drive along. There might be
Lego bricks that are really long that might be used for making a really big
Lego building, without using too many pieces. There might be bricks as big as
50x2 studs! The Lego people will also be really different. I think the Lego
people of the future, will interact with you! They might move their arms and
legs. That way, they could pick up stuff, walk over to a new place, and drop
off whatever they picked up. You might be able to program them to build a
Lego creation for you! They will be really cool.
For Lego Mindstorms, I think there will be many new
electric pieces. First of all, the motors will be much more powerful (but you
will probably still be able to program the motors to not use as much power).
There may be special "jet" pieces that make your creations fly. The RCX
bricks will probably be different too. I predict the RCX bricks of the future
will have a lot more sensor input ports and a lot more motor output ports. I
don't think that the RCX bricks will be much bigger though. They might even
be smaller with the extra ports on the side of the RCX. Then, the Brick would
be a different shape. There will be a lot more programming options and you
will be able to do advanced programming, too. There will be new
sensors that will allow you to do new things. For example, there might
be an altitude sensor for your inventions if you put a special "jet" on your
creation. Then you could program that invention to start flying down towards
to the ground if it reached an altitude of say, 15 feet. Because of the
addition of these new sensors, there will be a lot more programming
options. You might be able to program a light sensor to tell the difference
between two shades of blue
that only differ a little, tiny bit. You might be able to program a touch
sensor to sense any weight at all that comes on it. So, if you put it under a
Lego floor that moves down a little bit when stepped on by a Lego guy, when
that Lego guy steps on it, even though he doesn't weigh that much, you can
make the floor do something like move upwards if it was serving as an
There might even be a special machine you will be
able to buy that allows you to design and create your own Lego pieces. (It
will be really expensive when it first comes out and the price will probably
stay the same for a long time afterwards. Also, if you buy it, it will
probably come with enough plastic to make a few of your own Lego pieces, but
after you use up that, you will have to buy your own plastic, which will be
After the addition of these pieces, you will be able to build a lot
more creations with Legos, both electric and non-electric. With the new
electric pieces, you will be able to build planes and strong-sensing robots.
With the non-electric pieces, you will be able to create really cool Lego
buildings and ships. Even if these changes I predicted don't happen, Legos
will still have changed A LOT, 40 years from now!