If you need help building something new, ask a kid.
LEGOs provide endless stimulation to kids’ creation. That’s why Wayne Speight of Speight Studio Architects created GALO — the Greater Annapolis LEGO Open.
“Our contest started with just 11 kids,” Speight said. “We used to hold it in our studio conference room. Because of the contest’s popularity, we moved it downtown to the Maryland State Education Association.”
Since 2014, kids between six and 16 years old have presented their LEGO masterpieces to Speight and his team. Entries are judged on originality, expression of a concept and inclusion of a holiday theme.
“It’s wonderful to see the younger builders learn to be more creative,” Speight said. “The older kids really get into it. Some of the past models were so good that I bought them for the studio.”
Building with LEGOs, kids learn engineering, creativity and problem-solving — skills essential for future builders.
In 2016, promising architect Elias Snyder built a LEGO Grinch Cave Condominium. That same year, Jacob Jansen created an entire ski resort, equipped with a ski lift and snowy slope.
The kids have full creative control over their models, including their titles. Two years ago Callum Jenkisian built Santa’s workshop in the tropics and finished off his creation with the very solemn title, How Global Warming Affects Santa’s House/Workshop.
First, second and third prizes are awarded in each age group, along with such specialty awards as the Annapolitan and architecture awards. The kinetic and mechanic awards go to models that incorporate movement, whether battery operated or moved by hand crank.
“A young woman made a gumball machine entirely out of LEGOs,” Speight recalled. “It worked perfectly and even dispensed real gumballs. It was truly impressive.”
This year, 11-year-old Luke DeBaugh won the architectural award for his rendition of Christmas at the State House. “It was structurally impressive and very lifelike,” Speight said. “It was clear he put a lot of research into his model.”
“LEGO has a term for creative constructors,” Speight said. “They call them Masterbuilders. Based on the creativity and design execution we’ve seen the last five years, I’d say all the kids at the GALO awards are well on their way to becoming masters.”