Dr Ellen Kooijman discusses LEGO and science

The fan designer of LEGO Ideas set 21110 Research Institute, Dr Ellen Kooijman, believes that curiosity is the most important aspect of scientific research.

She considers the LEGO release an example of this, and talked about it during an interview with Silicon Republic.

“I’ve been a fan of Lego my whole life,” said Kooijman on a Skype call this week from Sweden, where she works as a researcher at the Swedish Natural History Museum. “I was aware of the sets that Lego were offering, and I had observed they weren’t really making enough female mini-figures compared to male mini-figures, and the few female ones they were producing were very stereotypical.”


At the time, Koojiman was motivated by a lack of female minifigures and decided to use the LEGO Ideas platform to launch her concept.

Kooijman was ‘flabbergasted’ when she found out through a video conference call that Lego was seriously considering the Research Institute. “I was so stunned. Apparently I didn’t react too much when they told me,” she said. “But when the video call ended I was bouncing off the walls!”

Of course as well as being the originator of not just 21110 Research Institute and 21302 The Big Bang Theory, Kooijman is accomplished in the field of geochronology.


“You are constantly working towards discovering things and understanding things that no-one has ever understood before,” she said. “You get to contribute to the knowledge we have, and it might be just a small thing but, as a whole, we make a lot of progress and it is very exciting.”

The latest science inspired LEGO Ideas set is the recently released 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V.


Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

Leave a Reply