Read here about Lego, a common rectilinear modelling toy, and how it helped or hindered the discover and development of tensegrity concepts in a generation of toy-playing children.
Lego (trademarked in capitals as LEGO) is a line of construction toys manufactured by the Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego, consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts. The toys were originally designed in the 1940s in Europe and have achieved an international appeal, with an extensive subculture that supports Lego movies, games, video games, competitions, and four Lego themed amusement parks.
Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects.
LEGO plays a minor role in tensegrity modelling, due to its predominately 90 degree coordination.
Lego's Implicit Model of Reality
Lego, like any toy, conveys an implicit model of reality. Tensegrity researchers that urge each child to have a Skwish are implicitly saying that childhood use of models affects the emerging adult's comprehension of reality.
Lego was a ubiquitous toy for the generation that invented, perfected and programmed the computers and software that make up the early World Wide Web. Object Oriented Programming (OOP), for example, is thought to be inspired by, or at least metaphorically similar, to the ease with which OOP inventors and programmers clicked together their LEGO constructions in their youth.
The following are aspects of LEGO play that are alien to the tensegrity mindset. (a) 90 degree coordination as a way to construct or model reality. (b) compression structures with weak tension are an ideal way to model reality. LEGO blocks stick together weakly, they are much better at resisting compressive forces. (c) compression and tension are bound into the brick, and are not separated out as they are in tensegrity structures with tendons and struts.
Using Lego to Model Tensegrity Structures
The still from a video, below, shows the use of LEGO technic struts in the deployment of a folding, two module, "needle tower" dynamic structure, by Dario Genovese .