Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Plastic Ships, Plastic Seas, Real Competition at Brick by Brick 2018

Master at Arms 1st Class Michael Moseley, a volunteer judge for the seventh annual Brick by Brick: Lego Shipbuilding competition held at the Decker Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in downtown Norfolk, points out details near the bow of the riverboat “The Bricktopia,” the largest model entered in the competition, as the other judges, Norfolk Naval Shipyard engineer Mark Anderson (to Moseley’s right in blue T-shirt), and Hampton Roads Naval Museum Exhibits Specialist Don Darcy (in red T-shirt to Anderson’s right) look on.  Bricktopia’s creator Jett Starcher of Gloucester, Virginia, watching the proceedings at far right, spent around 200 hours on the 8 foot-long model, which was made from approximately 20,000 Lego bricks.  (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Last Saturday, 3,116 visitors and volunteers converged on the Hampton Roads Naval Museum's Seventh Annual "Brick by Brick: LEGO Shipbuilding" event, held at the Decker Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Downtown Norfolk. Over 150 of them entered their ships into the event's shipbuilding contest, which was divided by age classes and by whether the models were made at the museum or at home. If the models were made outside the museum using parts provided by the builder, they were judged in the "Home-Built" section, while models made between 10 am and 2 pm (the judging deadline) at the event with parts provided by the museum were judged in the "Museum-Made" section. HRNM Education Director Laura Orr pointed out that nearly 100 volunteers, many of them active duty members of the United States Navy, helped make the event such a success. “We could not have done it without them,” she said.
At the Brick-by-Brick check-in area, Rear Adm. Ann Phillips (Ret.), a volunteer from the Hampton Roads Naval Historical Foundation, admires the handiwork of Matthew Hoecker, holding his model "USS Missouri," while his mother Patty (behind Matthew) and little brother Lucas look on. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
During the inaugural Brick by Brick in 2012, said Orr, nearly 800 people showed up, jamming the 6000-square-foot museum, located on the second floor of Nauticus, to the hilt. “I have no idea how we fit them all in,” she said. Year by year, the event grew to encompass the entire second floor of Nauticus, then parts of the first floor as well. As attendance climbed upward, it became obvious that the event was bigger than even Nauticus itself could handle, so the event moved to the first floor of the Half Moone in 2015. This expanded the amount of space three-fold, but two years later, even this wasn’t enough. It was at that point that plans were made to take over the entire cruise terminal and event center for 2018.
The Make-a-Ship area of Brick by Brick 2018 took up most of the top floor of the Decker Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in downtown Norfolk on Saturday, February 3, more than four times the space it had in years past. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
In the non-competitive Make-a-Ship area of Brick by Brick, Yvonne Galle-Bishop of Carrolton, Virginia takes a picture of her daughter Kaytlin (right), and her friend Angie Hayes with the model of USS Cumberland that have just completed. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
According to HRNM Deputy Education Director Elijah Palmer, preparations for Brick by Brick 2018 began only two days after the 2017 event ended, starting with a “lessons learned” lunch. Narrowing down the designs for the event’s new “Make-a-Ship” models began in May. “We wanted to do something related to the Vietnam War as it’s the 50th anniversary of that conflict,” said Palmer, “but it is also the centennial of World War I, so that also had to be taken into consideration.”
Liam West, 10, prepares to release the Mindstorms robot he has just programmed under the guidance of Sreekanth Ravindran, a NASA Langley post-doctoral researcher volunteering with the FIRST Lego League at Brick by Brick 2018. West went on to earn second place in his age category for the Built at Home portion of the shipbuilding competition. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
As in years past, many sponsors also came together to support the yearly event, including the National Maritime Center Nauticus, the Hampton Roads Naval Historical Foundation, the Historic Naval Ships Association, the Hampton Roads Lego User Group (HARDLUG), the FIRST Lego League (VA-DC), Engineering for Kids, and the newest sponsor, Brickheadz Enrichment Center of Chesapeake, Virginia, which provided the event’s newest section, a “sensory room” to accommodate Lego enthusiasts with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Neil Newlin, also from Gloucester, Virginia, brought back his scale Lego model of USCGC Tornado, which won the 17-and-older division last year, as an exhibit model. Joining Newlin’s marvelous modern model is a new model he made of an older experimental Revenue Service Cutter from the Civil War era, USRC Naugatuck, which exchanged fire with CSS Virginia while commissioned under the name E.A. Stephens as a part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She also bombarded Sewells’ point while it was under Confederate control.

Also returning to exhibit his intricate large-scale Lego models was photo archivist David Colamaria of the Naval History and Heritage Command, who debuted his six-foot-long model of the cruiser Boston (CA 69), which joined his squadron of vessels, which included USS Lexington (CV 2) and USS Indianapolis (CA 35).

The Winners

Category: Home-Built

In the 17-and-older division, Jett Starcher of Gloucester recaptured the top tier title this year with his eight-and-a-half foot-long riverboat called “The Bricktopia,” complete with a rotating paddle wheel. The model, made up of approximately 20,000 pieces, took about 200 hours to create.

Ages 17+

1st place: "The Bricktopia," by Jett Starcher.

2nd place: "Belfast," by Justin Groth.
Joshua Stubbs with his age bracket-winning entry, "The Rusted Destroyer." (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Ages 13-16

1st place: "The Rusted Destroyer," by Joshua S.

2nd place: "Shinebright," by Dallas M.

Ages 10-12

1st place: "SS Rhino," by Daniel N.

2nd place: "Monitor," by Liam W.

Emerson Duplisea pauses in front of his winning entry in the 7 to 9 year-old bracket of the Home-Built category, "LST-93."  "His dad is a real military history buff," said his mother, Rebekah Duplisea, "and Emerson became very interested in the ships that took part in D-Day." (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Ages 7-9

1st place: "LST-93 ," by Emerson D.

2nd place: "Landonator," by Landon F. 

Six-year-old Victor Nenov, 6, receives an award from Hampton Roads Naval Museum Education Director Laura Orr for his entry, “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine,” which won first place in the 4 to 6 year-old division of the “built at home” category of the seventh annual Brick by Brick: Lego Shipbuilding competition as Deputy Education Director Elijah Palmer looks on. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)

Ages 4-6

1st place: "We All Live in the Yellow Submarine," by Victor N.

2nd place: "A.S.P.," by Elliot J.

HRNM Educator Joseph Miechle, Coast Guard Chief Electronics Technician Neil Newlin, and Russ Babcock of the Hampton Roads Lego User Group judge model ships made at the Decker Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center on February 3. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)    

Category: Museum-Made

Ages 17+

1st place: "Bear Claw," by Doug C.

2nd place: "Ballistic Missile Boat," by Greye S.

Ages 13-16

1st place: "Gray Battleship," by Caleb D.

2nd place: "USS Yellow," by Ethan C.

Ages 10-12

1st place: "USS Captain Alex," by Aeke N.

2nd place: "SS Salvage" by Connor W.

Ages 7-9

1st place: "Mother-Rice," by Genevieve H.

2nd place: "Naval Coast Guard Ship," by Sankalp S. & Naina S.

Ages 4-6

1st place: "Olivia’s Dock," by Olivia L.

2nd place: "Ghostbuster Battleship," by Connor G.

Fan Favorites

Made at Home "Rock and Roll Ship" 

2nd place: "4855-194"

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