Fortnight of Friends – Day 4: Olivia’s Invention Workshop

This is the fourth set in the Fortnight of Friends series, #3933: “Olivia’s Invention Workshop”.

Today’s set features Olivia at work in her laboratory. There are four workstations: a blackboard, a lab table with a microscope and Erlenmeyer flask, a shelving unit with jars of mysterious chemicals, and a workbench with tools. She has an adorable little robot that she’s controlling with a remote control.

Due to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) nature of this model, I consulted my dance partner, who is not only a girl but also a high school math teacher. Her first reaction was, “Why is gravity pointing up?” in reaction to the force diagram on the blackboard. I had her build the set – she’s pretty inexperienced with LEGO but has two boys who are LEGO maniacs – and these were some of her impressions:

  • She likes the jars & bottles, and the cabinet with drawers
  • The microscope seemed odd, looking at a big gem. You can see it with the naked eye!
  • She likes the idea of the blackboard, but wishes it had something related to something in the lab (e.g., a chemistry formula). Boys are always referring to things in math/physics class from toys/games (e.g., they know about Dyson spheres and rings from playing Halo)
  • She doesn’t like that Olivia is wearing open toed shoes in the lab and didn’t have safety goggles
  • She was confused by the extra parts (I explained that all LEGO sets come with extras of the small parts, but she initially thought she had missed a step… which was compounded by the fact that the pages showing how to make the little robot were sticking together)

In discussing it, we had an idea – LEGO could show variations on the models as you build. Girls are less inclined to slavishly follow instructions as boys, and instead to add their own custom touches as they go. It was like following a recipe, where you might substitute, omit, or add ingredients as you go to taste. There’s no “season to taste” in LEGO.

I’m pleased by all the new color parts in azure and light azure colors. I think the microscope and vise are really clever little bits of SNOT building that will teach valuable skills to anyone who is new to LEGO who builds this set. And I’m really pleased to see a toy for girls that highlights a girl doing science.

Tomorrow’s set is #3934: Mia’s Puppy House.