Panama may not be the first place you think of for LEGO, but the LEGO Group’s Education arm has partnered with the world-famous Panama Canal to produce a custom, limited edition LEGO set demonstrating how the new third set of locks will work.
This new third set of locks was required to handle exponential growth in shipping traffic passing through the canal every year. According to Wikipedia: “Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in 1914, when the canal opened, to 14,702 vessels in 2008, for a total of 333.7 million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons. By 2012, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through the canal.”
The LEGO set is somewhat different from most sets. First, it’s part of the LEGO Education line which many die-hard fans don’t even know about. LEGO is a strong advocate for learning by play, experimentation and by “doing” as relates to all parts of a child’s education. From pre-school and literacy to middle school and S.T.E.M., the LEGO Education program offers special kits built just for education and include not only bricks and MindStorms modules, but stories, lesson plans and more targeted at educators.
The program is now releasing El Canal de Panamá featuring 1184 bricks and will only be available in Panama. The set is also only having 40,000 units prepared with each selling for $250 US approximately. This is not a set aimed at your average citizen or AFOL, it’s a cross between a commemorative set celebrating the latest expansion of the canal, and a tool to teach how the canal’s amazing system of locks works to raise and lower ships 85 feet from side to the other.