Caption: 150207-N-MH374-023 NORFOLK (Feb. 7, 2015) Ayden Oxley, from Norfolk, builds the USS Cumberland during the Hampton Roads Naval Museum fourth annual Brick by Brick: LEGO Shipbuilding Contest. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Drae Parker/Released

Story Number: NNS150209-16Release Date: 2/9/2015 2:07:00

By Ensign Holly Quick, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Ship builders of all ages competed in the fourth annual Brick by Brick: LEGO Shipbuilding Contest at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM) Feb. 7 in Norfolk, Virgina.

HRNM partnered with the Hampton Roads Naval Historical Foundation, the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) and Home Depot to give more than 2,000 builders a chance to create historic naval ships while learning about the science behind shipbuilding.

Many of the event's volunteers and participants were current or former Sailors, including retired Damage Controlman 1st Class Charles Cash, who built a naval ship model with his son, Alexander.

"Events like these bring out their [the children's] creativity and give them a chance to socialize with other kids who love Legos as much as they do," said Cash.

HRNM expanded the shipbuilding contest this year into two separate competitions: one for those who made ships at the museum event and one for those who built their ships at home.

The expansion came out of a desire to judge the projects according to the time spent building them, said HRNM Public Affairs Officer Susanne Greene.

"After doing this for the past three years, we felt it really wasn't fair for somebody who had a month to work on their ship to compete with somebody who just had a few hours," said Greene. "So this year we decided we need to have two separate shipbuilding competitions."

Ship models were judged based on three categories: creativity, aesthetic and originality. HRNM awarded prizes for five categories: one for each age group ranging from ages 4 to adult, as well as a fan favorite determined through popular vote at the end of the event.

Another new edition to the contest this year was the tabletop "dry docks" created for the on-site shipbuilding activities. The dry docks were color-coded based on skill level, with four levels ranging from easy to expert.

"We've spent the last couple years trying to figure out some way to separate the seats so that Legos don't go everywhere when you dump them out," said HRNM Deputy Education Director Laura Orr. "The first year we did this we put tape along the tables to separate the seats," said Orr. "It didn't do anything, and Legos went everywhere."

As part of the museum's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach program, attendees who didn't compete in the contest had the opportunity to create historic naval ships using professional instruction manuals created by NHF from HRNM ship designs. Some of the new manuals provided this year included USS Wisconsin (BB 64), USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), USS Cumberland and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

"Combining Legos with shipbuilding is perfect for us," said Orr. "It's a good way to teach science, technology, engineering and math, which can be tough in a history museum."

This year's event also offered additional Lego-themed educational activities, including a Lego Chalk Wall, a Lego photo corner, a Lego-themed beanbag toss, and Duplo building blocks for the youngest building enthusiasts.

Shipbuilder Alexander Cash, who is in fifth grade and attended the event with his father, said he enjoyed the event at the museum.

"I just like it here because you get to bring your creativity and bring out your ideas," said Alexander.

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum, www.hrnm.navy.mil , introduces visitors to more than 239 years of U.S. Naval history in Hampton Roads, Virginia. One of nine officially operated U.S. Navy museums reporting to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the museum houses a rich collection of authentic uniforms, weaponry, underwater artifacts, detailed ship models and artwork.

For more news from Naval History and Heritage Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navhist/.

For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element, East, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacennorfolk/.