In a move that has us singing “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” from the rooftops, LEGO has released several additions to their female scientist minifig family. Joining “Professor C. Bodin,” the first female researcher to be molded in yellow, is a team of female aerospace engineers and astronauts, and my personal favorite, a deep sea explorer set that pays homage to marine biologist Sylvia Earle. All. The. Feels.
In 1979, Sylvia Earle shocked the world when she walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before, or since. She has logged over 7,000 hours underwater, and has led over 100 expeditions. As a scientist, author, lecturer, and explorer. Earle’s dedication to protecting the world’s oceans has inspired millions of young women, myself included, to pursue careers in marine biology and science communication over the past four decades.
But the Deep Sea Explorers line, which ranges from a $6.99 scuba scooter mini set, to the “holy sh**, there goes my life savings” full set, honors more than just Earle’s accomplishments. LEGO has chosen to include a research vessel – a hat tip to ships like MBARI’s Doc Ricketts, NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer, and EV Nautilus, whose crews have brought us closer to the alien world that lies below the big blue. Without their dedication to sharing science online, we would be completely unaware of the incredible discoveries being made under our noses: from adorable octopuses, to jellyfish doppelgängers, to rare encounters with sperm whales.
But, perhaps cooler still, is the piece de resistance in the set: a critically endangered sawfish. I repeat: there is now a LEGO sawfish. Sawfishes are the unsung BAMFS of the ocean. These shark-like rays can grow to lengths of 7 meters (21 feet), have hedge cutters on their faces, and can give birth without any help from males. Though they once roamed the waters of over 92 countries, rampant overfishing has seen these incredible fish all but disappear in recent years.
“There are actually quite a few rays that are in serious jeopardy but their shark cousins get all the attention,” says molecular biologist Demian Chapman, who has done extensive work on sawfishes. It’s great to see LEGO doing their part to spread the word about a species that desperately needs some screen time.
The sets are selling out fast, so hop on eBay and prepare for click-enduced carpel tunnel. And if the ocean isn’t your cup-o-tea, fear not: also in the works are The Big Bang Theory’s Amy (a neuroscientist) and Bernadette (a microbiologist), computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, physicist Marie Curie, and geologist Circe Verba! Vote for your favorites and help make them a reality over at LEGO IDEAS.
IMAGES: 2015 LEGO GROUP, Mission Blue