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Veronica Watson in the Legoland workshop in Yonkers, New York

James Estrin/The New York Times/Redux

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LEGO® Builder

Veronica Watson turned her LEGO hobby into a job!

Many kids love building with LEGO bricks. But how many kids end up getting paid to build with LEGO bricks as an adult?

That’s what Veronica Watson did. In 2014, she won a contest to be a Master Model Builder at the Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers, New York. A Master Model Builder gets to play with LEGOs full time! Veronica started the job after college and stayed there for two years.

Many kids love building with LEGO bricks. They do it for fun. But how many kids do you know that build with LEGO bricks as an adult? And get paid for it?

That’s what Veronica Watson did. In 2014, she won a contest to be a Master Model Builder at the Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers, New York. A Master Model Builder gets to play with LEGOs fulltime! Veronica started the job after college. She stayed there for two years. 

Beginning Builder

As a kid, Watson didn’t think about working for LEGO. She was too busy building. She and her little brothers spent hours in their basement making LEGO cities, Star Wars spaceships, and even a model of the Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter books. Building the castle took a month to do. It was so big that it covered a table!

But when Watson grew up, she needed to get a job. That’s when she heard about the contest to become a Master Model Builder.

“I thought I would enter for fun,” Watson says. In the contest, Veronica built animals, a guitar, and a model of her head. Kids helped judge the contest entries—and they picked Watson’s!

To celebrate her win, workers dumped LEGO bricks on Watson. “I had LEGO bricks in my pockets and in my shoes,” she says laughing.

As a kid, Watson didn’t think about working for LEGO. She was too busy building. She and her little brothers spent hours in their basement. They made LEGO cities and Star Wars spaceships. They even made a model of the Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter books. Building the castle took a month to do. It was so big that it covered a table!

Then Watson grew up. She needed to get a job. That’s when she heard about the contest to become a Master Model Builder.

“I thought I would enter for fun,” Watson says. In the contest, Veronica built animals, a guitar, and a model of her head. Kids helped judge the contest entries. They picked Watson’s!

To celebrate her win, workers dumped LEGO bricks on Watson. “I had LEGO bricks in my pockets and in my shoes,” she says laughing.

Courtesy Kayla Mead/LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester and Autodesk

Workers celebrate Watson’s win in the building competition.

On the Job

As a Master Model Builder, Watson built complex LEGO projects for Legoland. She built models of a Star Wars Death Star, the U.S. women’s soccer team, and even Beyoncé.

“My favorite thing to build out of LEGO is actually people,” Watson says. “I find it really fun to look at photographs of celebrities or characters and try to represent them by using little LEGO bricks.”

Before Watson starts a project, she thinks about color first. Next, she looks at the shapes of her bricks, thinking about which she needs.

For small builds, Watson works fast, putting pieces together in different ways until she’s satisfied. For larger builds, she takes her time and models the build on graph paper first.

Watson’s advice for builders: “When you’re going to build a new model, look at parts you already have available. It can be a little frustrating to have the idea in your head first, and then find that you don’t have the parts that you need.”

As a Master Model Builder, Watson built complex LEGO projects for Legoland. She built models of a Star Wars Death Star. She also built models of the U.S. women’s soccer team and even Beyoncé.

“People are my favorite thing to build with LEGO,” Watson says. “I find it really fun to look at photographs of celebrities or characters. Then I try to represent them by using little LEGO bricks.”

Before Watson starts a project, she thinks about color first. Next, she looks at the shapes of her bricks. She decides which she needs to create what she wants.

For small builds, Watson works fast. She puts pieces together in different ways until she’s satisfied. For larger builds, she takes her time. Often she models the build on graph paper first.    

Watson’s advice for builders: “When you’re going to build a new model, look at parts you already have. It can be a little frustrating to have the idea in your head first, and then find that you don’t have the parts that you need.”   

Scott Gries/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc.

Watson’s model of the U.S. women’s soccer team

Beyond LEGO

These days, Watson has less time for LEGO. She left her job at Legoland to study architecture at Columbia University in New York. Architects design real buildings.

“Architecture is very related to LEGO,” Watson says. It will allow her to follow her passion and keep building!

These days, Watson has less time for LEGO. She left her job at Legoland to study architecture. She goes to school at Columbia University in New York. Architects design real buildings.

“Architecture is very related to LEGO,” Watson says. It will allow her to follow her passion and keep building!

Let’s say a LEGO building is 5 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 9 inches tall.

Let’s say a LEGO building is 5 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 9 inches tall.

You can fit 4 rows of 5 cubes along the bottom of the building. Each cube measures 1 cubic inch. How many cubes are along the bottom layer of the building?

You can fit 4 rows of 5 cubes along the bottom of the building. Each cube measures 1 cubic inch. How many cubes are along the bottom layer of the building?

The building is 9 layers tall. How many total cubes would fill up the building? What does this value represent?

The building is 9 layers tall. How many total cubes would fill up the building? What does this value represent?

Larger buildings look even more impressive in a LEGO city. A large building measures 7 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 12 inches tall.

Larger buildings look even more impressive in a LEGO city. A large building measures 7 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 12 inches tall.

How many rows of 7 cubes can you fit along the bottom of this building?

How many rows of 7 cubes can you fit along the bottom of this building?

How many cubes are along the bottom layer of the building?

How many cubes are along the bottom layer of the building?

How many cubes are along the bottom layer of the building?

How many cubes are along the bottom layer of the building?

How many layers of cubes can fit inside the building?

How many layers of cubes can fit inside the building?

What is the total volume of the building? Express your answer using the appropriate unit.

What is the total volume of the building? Express your answer using the appropriate unit.

Veronica Watson made a LEGO school building for her LEGO city. The building measures 4 centimeters long by 2 centimeters wide by 1 centimeter tall. What is the volume of the school building in cubic centimeters?

Veronica Watson made a LEGO school building for her LEGO city. The building measures 4 centimeters long by 2 centimeters wide by 1 centimeter tall. What is the volume of the school building in cubic centimeters?

Watson’s brothers made a movie theater for their LEGO city. It measures 2 centimeters by 1.5 centimeters by 3 centimeters. What is the volume of their movie theater?

Watson’s brothers made a movie theater for their LEGO city. It measures 2 centimeters by 1.5 centimeters by 3 centimeters. What is the volume of their movie theater?

On a separate sheet of paper, design a LEGO building that is 5 cubic centimeters larger than the movie theater. Record the building’s measurements.

On a separate sheet of paper, design a LEGO building that is 5 cubic centimeters larger than the movie theater. Record the building’s measurements.

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