Tag Archives: Biology

How I designed a motorized Lego chromosomal model to represent a genetic disease [Guest Feature]

Today we’re pleased to welcome Caleb Watson as a guest contributor to give a special introduction to his latest creation. We’ve featured some of his amazing models in the past such as the iconic ‘I am your Father’ Scene and the opening temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark. His newest model is starkly different from his past works being a chromosomal model designed for a project in his 11th-grade genetics class. He worked on this several-thousand-piece model for about two months and he explains his processes for designing it along with the scientific background behind the project.


The Building of an NF1 Chromosomal Model

By Caleb Watson

It’s no surprise that school is one of the biggest factors in my life that dictates how much time I’m able to build my LEGO models (along with friends, family, and running). As a result of this, I’m always looking for opportunities to integrate LEGO into what I need to do for school, which is how I came to build this model.

 

Right now, I’m wrapping up my junior year at Ballard High School in Seattle, and along with that, the final year of the three-year Biotechnology career pathway, a set of STEM-focused classes organized in a small cohort that takes biology, chemistry, and genetics. The first-semester project for genetics this year was to write a 9-page research paper covering everything about a genetic disease. I selected the disease Neurofibromatosis because it is quite common yet not well known, and has many interesting and unique attributes. For the second semester and capstone project of the Biotechnology Career Academy, we had to use the information we’d learned in our research papers to create a science project for the Student BioExpo at Shoreline Community College. Seeing the opportunity, I chose molecular modeling with the intent of building a LEGO model for my project. Continue reading

The heart is the soul, and sometimes the path to death

Biocup 2019 has kicked off this year with a preliminary theme of all things scary. Biocup is a fan friendly organised event where builders challenge themselves to use Lego Technic, Bionicle, CCBS (Creature and Character Building Systems) and Constraction with having little or no traditional LEGO System bricks involved. This particular round is themed on creations built on things that scare or put fear into your heart or send chills down your spine. Builder [VB]’s creation of a heart nailed right through is something to be afraid of. As much as the heart is one of the strongest muscle in the body, it’s also the one that can be the weakest or darkest in soul.

Unseen Adversary

Warning! Do not copy! A violation of these instructions will result in cell lysis!

Six months ago, we featured an incredibly unique spacecraft by Dwalin Forkbeard, but now he is back with a new installment in the series. This virus-inspired LEGO spaceship called Heavy Transport M11 Phage expands on his previous build both from a technical and design point of view. He’s also given it an even more molecular twist with a double strand of DNA in the cargo compartment, built out of two tipper beds he had lying around trying to find a use for. Most builders, myself included, will surely relate to the feeling of having a unique piece they desperately want to find a use for, and this is a great showcase of how to perfectly integrate them.

Heavy Transport M11 Phage

The spaceship has some killer colour blocking and oozes with intense technical detail like hoses, gears and pistons. I love the custom sticker saying PHAGE and the extra effort in the presentation, but the best detail is probably everyone’s favourite, the double helix.

This spacecraft will land on your phospholipid bilayer

It does not take an exceptional amount of imagination to see a landing module in a stereotypical bacteriophage, the type of virus that infects bacteria. So I am surprised that the latest creation from Dwalin Forkbeard is the first time I have seen the aforementioned virus used as inspiration for a LEGO spaceship, especially given how crazy some builders can get with their spaceship designs. Sometimes it takes someone with an outside perspective on the theme to come up with the most out-of-the-box idea. And, as might be expected from a builder with a name taken from The Hobbit, they have so far mostly focused on medieval and fantasy creations, quite often centered about dwarves, as, again, you might imagine.

Invader T3 Phage

The spacecraft features the main parts of a bacteriophage, but giving a mechanical twist to them: the head, which has the angular appearance we are used to from phage models; the tail that actually features some finer details; and the leg-like fibers that the real-life virus uses to attach to a bacterial cell, while the Invader T3 Phage uses them to land on planets or perhaps huge space-bacteria. The builder says that the pilot, the strange little character standing beside the spacecraft, is a highly complicated sentient DNA-form, a backstory which just adds to the charm of this unique creation. Even putting the originality aside, this is still a very good build. The colour blocking is done well, and the spherical ends of the legs just pop in the bright light orange colour. A few custom stickers saying “PHAGE” and “EMERGENCY DNA TANK” round it off perfectly as a very memorable spaceship.

A natural selection of LEGO parts

We are all born winners. Right from the start, we can say that we have won our first race. Kosmas Santosa has captured that first race in nature in LEGO using the Panel 4 x 4 x 13 Curved Tapered with Clip at Each End to shape the little swimmers’ heads. The grayscale palette and some nice lighting really help these fun little guys look their best on their big day.

The First Competition in Our Life

A very gutsy build

We’ve already seen the internal anatomy of a mini-fig, so I guess the innards of a brick-built figure was the next logical step. This version by Flickr member umamen comes complete with articulated joints, flex-tube veins and arteries, and helpfully color-coded organs. Can you name them all?