Everything is awesome about DIY Lego model of Vatican In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, visitors view a Lego representation of the St. Peter’s basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Everything is awesome about DIY Lego model of Vatican
Lexile

The science museum in Philadelphia was already hosting a blockbuster exhibit of Lego sculptures and preparing to unveil a huge display of Holy See treasures for the Pope's visit. That's when administrators got a serendipitous inquiry.
 
Would they like to see a model of the Vatican that a priest built entirely of Legos?
 
"It's amazing," said Larry Dubinski, president and CEO of The Franklin Institute. It is where the plastic brick structure is on view in downtown Philadelphia. "People are in awe."
 
The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months constructing a mini St. Peter's Basilica out of a half-million Legos. His architectural feat includes a Lego pope on a balcony overlooking the crowd in St. Peter's Square. The square is made up of about 44,000 Lego pieces resembling cobblestones.
 
A colorful cast of Lego characters populates the piazza. There even is a nun with a selfie stick and a bespectacled figurine of Simon. All told, the display measures 14 feet by 6 feet and weighs about 100 pounds.
 
"It was daunting," said Simon. "It was an exercise in patience, and I was thrilled with the way everything came out."
 
Simon said he built his first, rather crude, Lego model of the Roman Catholic church's headquarters when he was in seventh grade. Today, he serves as pastor at St. Catherine of Siena church in Moscow, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, and has been to the real Vatican five times.
 
To create the model, Simon used an image from a book cover as a guide. The hardest part was creating the round basilica dome from square bricks, he said. Although he looked for hints by watching YouTube videos, "I hardly understood what I was watching."
 
"I'm also not really great at math, so I was daunted by that as well," he said.
 
Yet he persevered. Using Lego life preservers to replicate the dome's windows - one of many ways he repurposed various shapes - he delicately built the structure without glue.
 
Denise Brownell, visiting the museum, was duly impressed.
 
"It's just such a perfect replica of the real thing," said Brownell. "It's just awesome."
 
Simon started the project a year ago in an empty room in his rectory and he finished in time to bring it to BrickFair, a Lego convention held over the summer near Washington, where it received many accolades. A friend then suggested The Franklin Institute might be interested.
 
Simon's creation is being displayed alongside "The Art of the Brick," an exhibit of Lego sculptures, and "Vatican Splendors."  The latter includes art, vestments and religious relics from the Holy See.
 
There are no plans for the Pope to see the Lego Vatican while he's in Philadelphia. But Simon hopes to see Francis. The priest will participate in the papal Mass on Sept. 27.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was math part of the challenge in building the Lego model?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (18)
  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/23/2015 - 01:35 a.m.

    I think this is cool because it is a mini Basilica. It is amazing how Bob Simon built it. It took him 10 months for him to finish. I wonder if he had to make it from scratch. Otherwise, he would have taken less time to make this.
    Why was math part of the challenge in building the Lego model?
    Answer: The math part of building the Lego model was challenging because Simon was not good at math.

  • jacobd-ver
    9/23/2015 - 08:55 a.m.

    I think that it cool that Bob Simon took 10 months to create this. I think that it is cool on how much concentration he had to have to make this.Also the amount of money it had to cost and just knowing if he makes one little mistake it could mess up everything.

  • joser-4-esc
    9/23/2015 - 10:14 a.m.








    A mi me gusta I porque es the Lego.

  • nickg-lam
    9/23/2015 - 01:37 p.m.

    It seems a man who was not an expert at Legos and wasn't much of a math person, made a Lego creation that amazing. It shows us that we can do anything if we set our minds to it. Go Pastor, go!

  • seans-2-bar
    9/23/2015 - 06:20 p.m.

    As an experienced lego designer I can vouch that math was definitely a part of building a model of that size.

  • rorys-1-bar
    9/24/2015 - 08:13 p.m.

    Math was part of the challenge because the Rev. had to create a unit conversion to translate the size of the Vatican and his Lego model. As the Rev. stated "I'm also not really great at math, so I was daunted by that as well," which brings another challenge to him.

  • jacks-6-bar
    9/24/2015 - 09:48 p.m.

    Considering that math can also be about dimensions and geometry, and how Simon had to build an intricate structure out of Lego bricks, which are usually not rounded or slanted, he had to use math to plan out how each brick would fit together and how big each component was to be to make the shapes and feel that were needed. Simon probably had to account for how much this was going to cost before he started, finding how many parts he needed. Considering he needed to figure this out countless times to make each section of the model, the math was a challenging, strenuous process, especially when looking at how accurate it turned out. This article was very interesting and fun for me to read, since I'm a fan of Lego.

  • lilyr-4-bar
    9/25/2015 - 12:56 a.m.

    Math was part of the challenge in building the lego model because you have to use geometry to figure out how to make many different shapes out of rectangular prisms. This is shown in the eighth paragraph, where it states, "The hardest part was creating the round basilica dome from square bricks, he said." This article was interesting and surprising to me because I didn't think any priests made things out of legos, and it seems to be a very large model made out of such small bricks.

  • jackr-2-bar
    9/25/2015 - 10:50 a.m.

    I think math was a part of this challenge because the builders have to use accurate scaling to have correct measurements. which we learned last year as seventh graders. This is probably my favorite article yet, I love building Legos and I find them very intriguing and hard to put down once you start. This is something my 6 year old self would dream about.

  • daytonb-3-bar
    9/25/2015 - 04:08 p.m.

    To make the Lego design perfectly to scale to the real Vatican to make it as realistic as possible. It is amazing that a few plastic bricks can make a truly spectacular design.

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