You Really Can Blend Work and Play in a Meaningful Way!!

For almost a year I’ve been collecting and building LEGO sets that I believed could really bring to life the tabletop exercises I participate in with my clients in emergency and disaster planning. One of my goals for 2014 was to blend my work and my LEGO hobby together as much as possible.

I began by assembling a “town” of people, vehicles and buildings that could be used as part of the exercises. Because there would need to be EMTs, fire, security and police response in many situations, my LEGO town also includes a mobile police command center, fire engines and ambulances (complete with stretchers), police cars, motorcycles, helicopters, boats and even a K-9 unit with two police dogs (in honor of Tim and Bear’s career).


I pay a special thanks to Tim and Paul Roberts Abernathy, my Constructionists (as the LEGO Group calls them), who spent hours helping me to put these kits together. I recently added two LEGO Architecture structures which could easily serve as corporate or government office buildings. So once my building projects were all finished, then what?? Would my plan really work as I had intended?

To test out my theory that I could use my passion for LEGO bricks in my actual work, I used my “town” as part of a security class I was teaching this week at Prince George’s Community College. Tim and I packed all of the required parts of the “town” into containers lined with bubble wrap and I prayed that all of the parts would stay together during the 20 minute ride in the car!!

We were covering emergency planning and disaster response that night, so I downloaded the college’s emergency plan and built our class exercise from that plan. Each student had a specific role in the exercise, as spelled out in the actual plan.


None of these students had ever participated in an emergency exercise, but a soon as I took the cover off the LEGO town, they were excited and ready to play and learn!! They played their roles in our active shooter situation to perfection, opening and closing college buildings as required, working as a team and calling in appropriate resources as they needed them. I had the response people and vehicles hidden, and didn’t add them to the exercise until the students requested them, exactly as a real exercise would work. One of the students commented “we need a helicopter so we can see where the shooter is hiding!” When I reached into the container and pulled out the LEGO police helicopter, the students went wild with excitement!!!

To say that the exercise was a success would be an understatement!! We all had a blast!! But the students recognized how hard it is to do everything correctly and as planned during an emergency or crisis! They concluded that the college’s emergency plan is a good one and would work if followed by all parties involved!!



We even ended the exercise in real fashion with one of the students giving a live press conference on the event to a LEGO reporter and cameraman. It doesn’t get much better than that!! They learned so much during this exercise and I certainly did too!! You really can blend work and play in a meaningful way!!


4 thoughts on “You Really Can Blend Work and Play in a Meaningful Way!!

  1. Loretta, what a fabulous description of the exercise! When you told me of wanting to do this, I couldn’t visualize how it would happen. Even seeing the pictures, I still couldn’t imagine how you conducted the exercise/drill. Your description makes it clear. Again, fabulous! And thanks for your kindly shout out to Tim and me!

  2. Thanks Paul!! My head is still spinning with ideas of what I can do next with my
    town!!! The head of the Police Academy and the Security Institute at the college
    was blown away when she heard the results of the exercise the next day. She
    couldn’t picture how it would all work either, even when she saw the town
    components. The smartest thing I could have done was to use the emergency plan
    of the college as it brought much credibility to the exercise. As the saying
    goes, “I love it when a plan comes together!!” When class was over, I had to
    INSIST that they go home because they wanted to keep playing!!!

    I had to thank you and Tim!!!! I sincerely appreciate all you’ve contributed to
    this dream of mine… Not only did you spend hours helping me, but you had FUN
    too, confirming for me that my work idea, and just the fun of building with
    LEGOs could go hand in hand!! You’re awesome!!

  3. I agree that using the school’s policy was the absolute smartest. Not only did it bring credibility, but it made it completely relate-able. For SURE I can say that I’m not surprised that it turned out well. You are a true born Educator!!!! Might I suggest next time though, that you include a baker to hand out yummy food to survivors 🙂

  4. Thanks Kim!!!! I think the survivors would have LOVED some cookies!!! Hadn’t thought of that!!! I’m booking LEGO brick parties though, so you’ll be fixing stuff for those!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s