First, the qualifier: I like LEGOs a lot. I should own stock in the company given all of the sets and loose figs we’ve purchased for our two kids in the past 20 years. On his 16th birthday this year, youngest child looked over his mature gifts and said, “No LEGOs?” So you don’t need to sell me on their popularity, their educational value, etc.
Having said that, the news that NASA today is launching the Mission Juno satellite with LEGO figures as part of its payload made me think, “WTF?”
Mission Juno will spend five-years traveling 400 million miles to Jupiter. The usual scientific reasons for the voyage are cited. I won’t bore you with the details. But whether it’s in the name of whimsy or science, the satellite is carrying “a crew” of three LEGO figurines. The 1.5 inch tall figures depict Galileo, the Roman god Jupiter, and his wife, Juno. (Galileo was credited with making discoveries about the planet of Jupiter, including finding four of its moons, and the little Galileo figure holds a telescope. Juno has a magnifying glass and Jupiter a lightning bolt.)
News stories report that LEGO is partnering with NASA to promote children’s interest in science, math, engineering and technology. I like that. My kids aren’t strong in those subjects, and I’m not sure LEGO could have changed that, but still. It’s nice to know SOMEONE, even if it’s a foreign toy company, is thinking about the math and science skills of American kids.
But my worry is this. Let’s say there’s some kind of life on Jupiter. The satellite crashes and the aliens open the wreckage to find this. Exactly. Anyone else think that even aliens would say, “WTF?”?
Not that Juno’s not a stunner of a LEGO, but do I want the aliens of Jupiter to envision Earth creatures this way? I think not. This is what we decided to tell them about earthlings?
We shoulda sent the Muppets.