In October 2012, LBNL had its Open House scheduled on the 12th. It would be a great exhibit to attract kids and adults alike and so I volunteered to build a copy of the ATLAS Lego Model for the Open House. The original Lego model was designed by Sascha Mehlhase and he maintains a website with information and a construction manual here. The folks at LBNL who helped me were Mike Hance, Bertha Heimel and Martina Hurwitz. Here are some photos from the construction of the model at LBNL.

The model is built from about 9500 lego pieces. The lego bricks were expected to show up a few weeks before the Open House, but I ended up getting my hands on the model on October 4th. It was only after I unpacked the two boxes, and pulled out all the bags, did I appreciate just how many bricks there were (above). That was also when I doubted if a week would be enough time. Michael Barnett was kind enough to donate his office (he was away!) and that had enough space to spread out a bit. Thankfully, Sascha's website has nice instructions for the most part and I started by finishing the inner detector (below).

After a couple of different approaches, it turned out that gathering the pieces before hand sped the process a lot, although it was boring to spend time doing that before. Once all the tracker and calorimeters were done (above), it was on to building the support structure (below right).

Putting together the support structure and the detector in it was painful, but also satisfying since it seemed like tangible progress. The toroid end-caps were very hard though, and tiny bricks kept falling off and inside. The scale was easy, but since it wasn't fixed to anything, already I had started to think of how we would move the model to the Open House exhibit.

Once the support structure was completed, the muon wheels were a little quicker, and the scaffolding and logo were very quick. The legend was tricky and we thought a bit about a handwritten legend, but in the end Ken Wilson lent me a label-maker that did the job very nicely and we ended up with a nice looking legend (although a tad larger font would've helped).

Moving the model turned out to be not so bad, since we had the experienced Steve Dardin and Ken to help us. Whats a lego model, once you've moved the million-dollar pieces of the real pixel detector to CERN!!
And here is the model on display at the LBNL Open House in its acrylic housing, made by Steve and Ken. The model attracted lots of attention at the Open House and served as a magnet to bring people towards our display where they could learn more about high energy physics and ATLAS. Of course, the Higgs discovery in July 2012 also helped in warming up the crowd, so to speak!

Ken was nice enough to help us move the model back once the Open House was done. Now the model has a nice permanent home in the LBL Physics Division foyer. Do check it out if you are there!