Physics and LEGO: an enduring love affair

James Dacey, Lewis Matherson, Joshua Chawner, Maria Parappilly

Research output: Other contribution


49 minutes Podcast
An unlimited world of structures built from precision-engineered unit parts – it is easy to see why LEGO appeals to many physicists. But in addition to the pure enjoyment, this plastic construction toy is also a great teaching tool, and it has even featured in serious science experiments. In the November episode of Physics World Stories, Andrew Glester meets physicists who have used LEGO in fun and creative ways to communicate physics.

The first guest is Lewis Matherson aka @LegoPhysicsGuy, a former physics teacher who now makes physics videos aimed at students and teachers. These videos regularly incorporate LEGO to illustrate core physics concepts in GCSEs and A levels – exams typically sat by 16- and 18-year-olds in the UK.

Next up is Joshua Chawner, a low-temperature-physics researcher at Lancaster University, UK. Chawner captured the imagination by subjecting LEGO pieces to the coldest temperatures on Earth, placing them inside his group’s dilution refrigerator, as documented in an award-winning video (below). Despite reaching 1.6 millidegrees above absolute zero (2000 times colder than deep space) the bricks proved to be extremely good thermal insulators, a surprising result described in Scientific Reports.

Last but not least is Maria Parappilly, a physics education expert at Flinders University, Australia. One of Parappilly’s successful initiatives was to create a LEGO race cars exercise for an introductory physics course that previously seen high drop-out rates. Parappilly is also the founder of the STEM Women Branching Out at Flinders University, designed to make science and other technical subjects more inclusive.
Original languageEnglish
TypeEveryday Science- Podcast
Media of outputPhysics World Magazine
PublisherIOP Publishing
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020


  • LEGO
  • LEGO race cars
  • physics


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