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Engineer's Toy Becomes a Profession
11/30/2011

The Clarksville Elementary School Building Set is one of the engineering-inspired offerings from Paul Flack's Bridge Street Toys.
The Clarksville Elementary School Building Set is one of the engineering-inspired offerings from Paul Flack’s Bridge Street Toys.

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bellhop
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Re: Toys
bellhop   12/6/2011 3:20:25 PM
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I probably had a version of every common "build it" toy that there was and then some (remember "Mr. Machine?"). Legos are like programming in assembly language and Capsela is like Visual Basic. Either way, it takes some thought to create something unique.

Toothpicks: I had a 7th grade assignment to build a toothpick structure. The rules were very strict to prevent gluing together solid masses of toothpicks. It had to be 12" tall. They were to be tested with bricks. I confidently predicted that mine would hold five bricks. Did they ever laugh at me! Well, the big day came. There were only four bricks and it held them all - plus four volumes of the "World Book". My closest competitor collapsed on the second brick. 

We moved that year. My best friend took it home and reported that his two year old cousin used it as a stool.

Did I become an engineer because of the toys? I don't think so. The interest was already there. The toys just made it fun.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Loved Hydrodynamics!
Rob Spiegel   12/6/2011 2:56:58 PM
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I with you on the importance of a library card, bellhop. I still remember going to the town library at about 8 and getting my first library card. It was a whole new world opening. My first stop was the dinosaur books. I remember checking out every single one over a period of a few weeks. Then it was every book on volcanoes, then every book on tornados. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Toys
Ann R. Thryft   12/6/2011 2:43:57 PM
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I generally prefer the freeform building tool toys, like the freeform Legos, and even Tinker Toys and toothpicks, because you get to exercise more of your creativity and ingenuity. I agree, Rob, that the packaged toys aren't nearly as much fun. I think the reason the building sets in this story are appealing is their beauty. I guess they remind me of a kind of hardware version of dollhouses, that whole fascination with miniatures, which I also liked.


bellhop
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Re: Loved Hydrodynamics!
bellhop   12/6/2011 8:11:43 AM
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Agreed! I got a library card when I moved to Tampa at age 6. I used to walk the half mile there and back to trade in my book for another. I hit the science books pretty hard, but I liked fiction too. The libray card actually pre-dated the Hydrodynamics set.

Charles Murray
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Re: Loved Hydrodynamics!
Charles Murray   12/5/2011 9:29:37 PM
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You're not alone, bellhop. Paul Flack liked the Hydrodynamics set best, and that is said to have had a profound effect on his decision to become a chemical engineer.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Loved Hydrodynamics!
Alexander Wolfe   12/5/2011 5:21:02 PM
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Amid this interesting discussion of construction today, one forgets the importance of books in whetting future professional interest. I remember getting out of the library at a very young age a basic guide to electricity. It was either a trade school or military manual, copiously illustrated. I spend weeks with those tomes.

bellhop
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Loved Hydrodynamics!
bellhop   12/5/2011 3:18:13 PM
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I loved my Hydrodynamics set! It was a surprise gift one Christmas. Did my parents ever know me?! I went on to build other things with it such as submarines powered by an aquarium pump.

Capsela is another great toy. Among other things, it can difinitively demonstrate the improved efficiency of "screw drive" over "paddle wheels" on a boat. The track drives are fun too!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Toys
Rob Spiegel   12/5/2011 3:04:38 PM
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You're right, Ann. Legos came much later. My experience with Legos came with my kids. I liked the freeform Legos. I wasn't as crazy about the packaged Lego toys where the box came with just the Legos you needed to make a specific robot or car. I changed my mind when I realized these packages had replaced my childhood model planes and boats. They are kind of like paint by the numbers -- not very creative, but good training in learning how to manipulate parts to achieve a whole.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Toys
Ann R. Thryft   12/5/2011 12:03:40 PM
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Actually, I enjoyed the Tinker Toys and even the toothpick palaces. It was more of a challenge to figure out how to build things so they wouldn't fall down. What I really wanted was an Erector set, but in the 50s they were very pricey and not something parents usually gave to girls. Like Rob, I don't remember Legos. I think they came later.


vimalkumarp
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Gold
Engineer's toy becomes a profession
vimalkumarp   12/5/2011 1:54:12 AM
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This is an important article looking at the way world is evolving.

What one does and reads as a child plays an important role.

have a look at this http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail1859.html.

Masaru Ibuka of Sony wrote the book  Kindergarten is Too Late , in which he

claims that the most significant human learning occurs from ages 9 months to 3

years and suggests ways and means to take advantage of this.

 

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