LEGO building offers students more than just a creative outlet

Aditya Thiyag | The Chronicle

Step by step, brick by brick. 

That is the approach that high school students are taking to build LEGO sets, and in turn, the approach they are taking to live their lives. 

LEGO is a toy manufacturing company centered around connecting plastic bricks that form various objects from a plethora of franchises when assembled. Each LEGO set contains bags of multiple lego bricks and an instruction booklet, with sets being divided into age range and franchise, allowing for people of all ages to build sets together.

For senior Adam Weaver, LEGO sets have been a way to connect with his friends and family. With his dad being a LEGO fan for years, Weaver said that familial passion was the reason that he personally got into LEGO. Their shared interest allowed the pair to build relationships with one another and enjoy the hobby together rather than separately.

“For my dad’s birthday this year, I got him the Star Wars Mandalorian spaceship [in LEGO],” Weaver said. “But, we built it together as a bonding experience. It was a fun time where he got something cool that he could put on a shelf and we got to spend time together.”

Weaver said that he rarely built LEGO sets on his own and that he would often “make a day out of” building large sets. By “working in chunks” and turning building into “a collaborative experience”, Weaver said that he found the building experience more enjoyable. In addition to being more fun, Weaver believes that working with other people makes the experience easier, especially with larger builds.

“LEGO sets can be very big endeavors, and having someone else with you makes the process feel a lot smaller and a lot more manageable,” Weaver said. “I remember even in first grade I had a friend over and we put the Star Wars AT-AT together, so I’ve never really built by myself.”

Themed sets, like those centered around entertainment franchises such as Star Wars or Harry Potter, are the most popular among the LEGO community, with the former causing a 31% increase in the company’s net income, according to CNBC. Senior Constantin Stanescu-Bellu said that his love for LEGO stemmed from the variety of these themed sets. Since there were always sets that “were able to satisfy [his] curiosities”, he said that LEGO kept him engaged as he got older.

“I remember being really into LEGO Ninjago and comic book heroes as a kid and there were always new, more extensive and flashier sets centered around those coming out,” Stanescu-Bellu said. “Even as I grew up, there were always sets for things that I enjoyed. I’ve recently gotten into space travel and there are plenty of sets on older generations of rockets, like the space shuttle.”

As Stanescu-Bellu grew up, he said that the size of the sets that he built increased significantly as well. With piece counts crossing into the thousands, Stanescu-Bellu said that there were some dull moments in the building process, but by focusing on “what was directly in front of [him]” rather than becoming overwhelmed by “looking too far ahead”, he was able to complete large builds. He said that this approach lent itself well to other aspects of his life, including the college application process.

“It’s really easy to get stressed out when thinking of all the outcomes in the application process and how going to college will impact the rest of your life.” Stanescu-Bellu said. “However, just like in LEGO, it’s better to just focus on the next step that you have to take every day to get closer to your goals.”

The application process is not the only place where a chunked approach has helped students. As an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, Weaver worked on several large-scale projects and said that he had one mindset that he would be in during both large LEGO builds and scout projects.

“I tried looking at the small pieces that I got done and being positive instead of trying to look at this huge undertaking and thinking, ‘there’s so much still to go,’” Weaver said. “It was all about being positive, looking at how much I got done [that day]. Like, ‘I was able to dig up this entire section,’ instead of being negative.”

Despite the grueling nature of some of the larger builds, Stanescu-Bellu said that the variety of LEGO means that there is a set for everyone, that it is a hobby that anyone can pick up and enjoy.

“The great thing about LEGO is that there are sets for almost anything you can think of, making it easy to pick up a set and be genuinely interested in it.” Stanescu-Bellu said. “I think anyone can get into LEGO, and for someone who hasn’t built a LEGO set yet, look for a set that represents one of [your] passions or interests.”

Illustration by Nishka Mishra, Photo contributed by Constantin Stansecu-Bella