Monday, January 23, 2006

Can Artists Be Engineers?

A burning question from a seven year old who now wants to be both. Well, plus a scientist and a ballerina in her spare time.

Spent today in Design & Technology mode, aka messing about with meccano and lego. Was a great success, Emily took to it a lot more than I thought she would (and a lot more than I did, lol). First of all, we built a wooden shadouf with some suitably shaped twigs, and discussed where the pivot point needed to be etc etc.

Then we moved onto some experiments with gears. We built a gear and pulley mock up thingamijig out of meccano, and Emily experimented with how many turns of the handle you needed to get the big pulley wheel to revolve once, and then we swapped the gears round and saw what a difference it made. Here's the engineer with her gears:

After that we experimented some more with a meccano crane type structure and pulleys of three different sizes to see which would wind a weight up fastest, and which with least effort.

Finally and most thrillingly (!) of all, Emily built a motorised buggy and had great fun running it about on the floor. I was really proud of her patience and persistence - meccano nuts and bolts and screws (old style, this stuff is about 30 years old at least!) are not exactly 7 year old finger friendly, but she mostly managed without assistance apart from me holding the odd bit together when it got really fiddly.

Emily was also quite thorough in problem solving - when she first put the buggy together, she didn't have the motor lined up with the pulley on the axle, so the elastic band kept twisting and slipping off. She fixed that, but then found that the thing was fixed too tightly too close to the body of the buggy and wasn't revolving freely, so she added a washer to space it out a bit. Finally, at the third attempt, hey presto! A working buggy! She was pleased as punch. Here's a pic of the end result:

All in all we must have spent about three hours straight off "playing" with the stuff. Big thanks to my Dad who not only reminded me they had all this meccano in the attic but also spent a long time helping me understand what I was doing over the weekend so I stood at least a vague chance of helping Emily. Am I the only person in the world who managed to get through a so-called decent education without EVER building a motorised buggy or doing any hands on stuff with pulleys, gears and the like??? Apparently so. The most I ever remember building with either lego or meccano was a house - no moving parts or technological knowledge required! Anyway, I didn't know where to start, so his help was much appreciated :-)

After a break for lunch, Emily wanted to do some more yoga practice, and gymnastics. She's really got the hang of focusing/staring at something intently to help her balance; I was very impressed. And of course, there were plenty of forward rolls, which she can do finishing on her feet. Sometimes.

By tea time, though, Emily had developed a sore throat and a temperature. Never ceases to amaze me how fast kids fall ill! One minute they're fine, the next they're not. She's gone off to bed early tonight; we've got friends coming over tomorrow so fingers crossed she'll be better!

1 comment:

Jax said...

da vinci? He seemed to crack most things, though not sure he'd look good in a tutu...