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Slideshow: Tech Toys for Aspiring Engineers

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Elizabeth M
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Clever slideshow!
Elizabeth M   11/20/2013 7:51:20 AM
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These are great toys for geeks! (I mean "geek" in the best way possible. :)) My friend's son is a Lego freak. I know he would love that Mindstorms EV3. I may have to suggest his mom get it for him for Xmas! In fact I think a lot of these would be great gifts to help inspire young minds into engineering.

rpl3000
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Re: Clever slideshow!
rpl3000   11/20/2013 9:03:34 AM
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Construx were my favorite but they met their death (like many of my toys) when I discovered Estes model rockets. I could not resist the temptation to attach rocket motors to everything.

naperlou
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trip down memory lane
naperlou   11/20/2013 9:20:44 AM
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Chuck, that is a great slide show.  Between my childhood and my two sons I have had experience with most of the toys in the show. 

I was also lucky that when I was young my father worked at an elecronics lab.  We had lots of surplus parts that he would bring home (there was a set shelf life, and older parts still worked).  I also got a lot of early breadboards.  I would play with them a little, then scavenge for parts.  Finally, he would bring home trade journals and previous version vendor manuals (such as the Motorola and GE Transistor books).  Then, of course, I would also buy Heathkits.  I think they are back in business.

My sons, now in late teens and early twenties, were big fans of Lego.  We also had a "CAD" package from Lego that would allow the visualization of a project and the creation of a "manual" for building it.  We have been to Billund.  It is quite impresive.  As you get near the town small piles of very large Lego bricks (two or three feet long) appear in the side of the road.   The factory is very modern and Legoland is fantastic.

At IBM in the UK there was a lab that had done a neet project using a Mindstorm brick as a part of a vehicle to demonstrate a new software product.  It was a real demonstration and the kids loved it at open houses.

One thing I do like in the school today is that the physics classes have extra credit projects where you are constrained to certian specs and parts.  One usually involves a mousetrap as locomotive power.  Another is usually a bridge building project.  These really test the student's (and often, partent's) creatvity.  I think my wife and I enjoy them more than the kids did.

richnass
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Re: trip down memory lane
richnass   11/20/2013 11:26:43 AM
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What about Heathkits? They were the kings of educational kits in my day. Radio Shack had a good assortment of such kits as well. My first "real" kit was a color organ, you know, the box you put next to your speaker when you blast the music, and all kinds of different lights light up? It actually didn't work on my first attempt and my dad had to help with my sloppy soldering.

 

Chuck, is that your photo on image 16?

Charles Murray
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Re: trip down memory lane
Charles Murray   11/20/2013 11:33:55 AM
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Nope, not my photo on Image 16, Rich. Construx came out in 1983, when I was nearing 30 years old. While I may not have been too old to play with toys at 30, I didn't look like that at that point.

Rob Spiegel
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Great toys
Rob Spiegel   11/20/2013 11:36:25 AM
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I have about two thirds of those toys packed away in my garage. When my kids were young, I tracked down toys such as Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. Plus, I bought them all of the newer tech toys (Leap Pad, Legos, K'NEX) including some that are not pictured, such as Transformers and various robots. I kept them all for future grandchidren. Until they get consumed by electronics, kids can be very creative with these toys.

mrdon
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Re: trip down memory lane
mrdon   11/20/2013 4:02:27 PM
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Charles,

Great slideshow and quite timely because I'm using the latest LEGO Mindstorms' kit the EV3 in my Digital Electronics class. I work at the Lawrence County Center of Technology in Moulton, Alabama teaching high school students the wonders of Electronics and Robotics Technology. Currently, I'm having the students become familiar with the EV3 by building small mobile robots. Some of the students are using the LEGO Robot Command  App to control their bots via smartphone Bluetooth. It's amazing to see these kids build and test the robots without a lot of instructional training.  I'm a firm believer in Project Based Instruction and the immediate results educators can see by students building and exploring technology (LEGO EV3) through creative play. Great Article!!!

mrdon
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Re: Great toys
mrdon   11/20/2013 4:10:14 PM
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Rob,

I have most of the earlier versions of the LEGO Mindstorms kit that used the yellow programmable brick (the RCX) as well as the NXT and EV3 units. I've used the RCX brick to teach both pre-engineering and mechanical engineering students basic electrical-electronics. I was so thrilled about the education benefits to of using the RCX to explore electrical-electronics, software and mechatronics that I wrote two books listed below for McGraw. I'm contemplating on writing another book with projects based on the latest Mindstorms kit the EV3.

 

LEGO Mindstorms Interfacing

http://www.amazon.com/Lego-Mindstorms-Interfacing-Electronics-Robotics/dp/0071402055/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1384981613&sr=8-6&keywords=don+wilcher

 

LEGO Mindstorms Mechatronics

http://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Mindstorms-Mechatronics-Controls-Sophisticed/dp/0071417451/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1384981674&sr=8-5&keywords=don+wilcher

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Great toys
Rob Spiegel   11/20/2013 4:14:26 PM
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That's great MrDon. Thanks for the links. These new toys are wonderful for kids of all ages.

mrdon
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Re: Clever slideshow!
mrdon   11/20/2013 4:18:23 PM
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ElizabethM,

The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kit is awesome. The programmable brick has 8 ports for input sensors, switches, and motors. Also, you can control the programmable brick based LEGO bot using the LEGO Robot Command App availabe for Apple and Android based smartphones and tablets. I'm having a ball with the my EV3 kit as well as my high school electronics tech students. It will definitely make a great Christmas gift your friend's son as well as the parents. 

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