I too feel learning should be made a bit more enjoyable. Then definitely the children will focus on it a bit more. At present most of the teenagers are glued into different types of games which too are a category of toys. If we can link these 2 games or toys with education, definitely there will be a rise in the levels of education plus more and more will be involved in learning new things even in class rooms.
Anything tha makes learning fun will likely make kids more willing to learn, not to mention make it a positive experience for them. This actually even looks like fun for adults, especially some of us who aren't technically versed in circuits and electronics. :) It's also in line with a mission by President Obama to get kids interested at an earlier age in math and science to help the U.S. compete workforce-wise on a worldwide level, as students in other countries in Asia especially are performing better than American students. Nice coverage.
I heartily agree, Liz. Fun is essential. I blieve a whole generation of mechanical engineers were inspired by toys of the '50s and '60s: Legos; erector sets; Mister Machine, Kener's Girder & Panel building sets. When those toys went away in the '70s and '80s, engineering enrollments started to decline. See the YouTube '60s video of Mister Machine here:
That's an interesting trend to note, Chuck, but I believe you may be right. Maybe with some new and clever toys, designers like Ayah Bdeir can help foster a new generation of engineers. It certainly can't hurt to try to engage children in this way. And the kids I know seem to be getting smarter by the minute--I am truly amazed by the potential of future generations.
Indeed, Chuck. And it also gives kids an idea of what they are interested in at an early age, leading them down the right path vocationally. Hopefully this leads them to a fitting and fulfilling career. If kids become interested in engineering early through clever toys, it might save them time later on deciding what they want to do with their life.
Even though Lego's last patent expired in 1989, kids still prefer it by name. The Lego craze has not quieted. No other competitor has been able to effectlively enter the building block market. Kids won't allow it. Lego has briliantly added pneumatic components in the 80's and co-branding in the 90's to expand the brand's influence and fun factor.
Little Bits is more complex than Legos. It's great for the advanced student. I wonder if teachers would allow it to be used for science projects. Or, would using it be considered cheating by some?
Ever since learning about littleBits I thought the exposed circuit boards were an interesting choice. It makes the kids, or whoever, realize that inside electronics is a complex and delicate place. If the company cover the boards, which they could, the "how it works" will be behind the magic curtain. Glad it's open.
On the LEGO note: yes they are more popular, but the others are catching up. Like Kre-O, they have licensed "Transformers" and many other popular properties. I was almost tempted to buy a set. But, I think it comes down to the "minifig," the little LEGO guy. The original is more appealing to me than the knock-offs. And, I think the minifig contributes to the success. Plus LEGO has Mindstorm and NXT.
KreO is interesting, but I will say that the KreO manual is much more difficult to understand than Lego. As a kid, I had a Capsella set that had clear bubbles with viewable gears, so you could see the motion transfer. It was cool to watch working. Hopefully, the viewable circuit boards on these new toys will show the internal engineering
I applaud Bdeir for creating this product. Students seldom make a committment to study things that they dislike or are intimidated by. It's essential to make technology fun at the lower levels. Nice story, Cabe.
I think you're definitely right about Legos, NadineJ--nearly every kid I know still goes through some kind of Lego phase. I also like your idea about using these advanced toys in the classroom--the earlier the better.
In the future all will depend on the technology with the everyday increasing need gaps of the people. Traditional ways will remain on the museums. So it's good to start learning with the technology in the early stage.
So defanaitly Electronic Learning Toys will Help Educate the World.
The only downside to this littleBits is that all the boards just click together in a proprietary way. There is no hands on configuring, like breadboards, etc. It still removes the kid from realizing, these circuits have to be constructed, each part.
I will admit, most engineering is based off on modules these days. So, may it's just a sign of the times.
My education about electricity and circuits began with building simple sequencing circuits using cast-off Allen Bradley control relays. They were easy to understand since all of the contacts were in the open, easy to watch as they opened and closed. And all of it ran on 110 volts AC power, so there were no batteries to go dead on me. The designs were noisy and sparky and quite entertaining to a nine-year-old, and they amazed my friends who came to watch them work. What a great way to recycle industrial controls parts that weere just a bit obsolete. Later on I did get one of those educational electronic kits that made a bunch of different projects. I don't think that anyone worried about the 150 volts DC power that they used, and I know that I didn't get shocked by it while using it, so it must have been safe, somehow.
A good recollection, Charles. I can recall visiting some science fairs in the late 1950's and early 1960"s and seeing various computational functions executed in hard-coded relay logic. And I have seen some of the older industrical control panels with a hundred or more of the little "ice cube" type relays, all running some fairly complex machines. Those were more the logic type of relays, while the cast-offs that I had were more toward the power types, with contacts designed to switch ten amp loads all day long.
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MCU manufacturers have become excellent sources for information you can use to get a head start on your next design. In addition to the normal data sheets and evaluation boards, MCU manufacturers also often provide complete reference designs -- working designs that establish a proven baseline for creating your own custom design.
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