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My oldest recently turned 7, and this past Saturday he decided to work on one of his birthday presents. Everyone knows he loves to build, so many of his presents were Legos. But one of his presents was a toy that was a mix of Kinex and Legos. It included step by step instructions on assembling a robot!
The first step was to insert batteries into the body of the robot, which required a screwdriver to open. So my son ran to the garage, and grabbed the first small screw driver he could find. As he tried to open the battery pack, he couldn’t get the screwdriver head to engage with the screw. He asked me to help, so I took a look at what he was trying to do. Looking at the screwdriver he was using and the head of the screw, I realized he was using the wrong kind of screwdriver.
Me: Look at the screwdriver, now look at the screw. Do their shapes match?
Me: Right! What you have is a flathead screwdriver. What you need is a Philips head screwdriver. Go and ask daddy for a Philips head screwdriver.
And off he went to get the right screwdriver. He unscrewed the battery pack, put the batteries in, and then screwed it closed.
Following the step by step instructions, my son started building his robot. Each step provided a 3D image of what the robot looked like after that particular step in construction. To limit confusion, each piece of the robot was a distinct color (yellow, blue, grey, red) which made it easy my son to:
- Figure out what piece he needed.
- Find the piece within the image provided by the instructions.
I left him alone while went to get dinner started, and he did really well! Every once and while he would ask for my help to snap something into place, but for the most part he was able to work by himself.
Eventually, though, I started hearing him start to struggle. I went to see what was making him frustrated, and sat down to help him.
Me: What’s wrong?
Son: I can’t get the hat to go on.
Me: Let me take a look.
I looked at the instructions, and then at the pieces he was trying to put together.
Me: It looks like these pegs go into two of the holes at the bottom of the “hat”.
We both tried to make the pegs fit into the holes several different ways, but neither of us could force them in. I gave it one last try, while my son looked at the instructions again.
Son: Wait! It looks like the pegs go behind the holes!
Me, still a little confused: Really? Well that’s strange!
I looked at the picture while he put the pegs in front of and in between two holes. He was right!
He finished up the last assembly pretty quick, and soon had his robot completely finished!
Now it was time to play! He turned the battery pack on, and we played with the robot until little brother woke up.
After every little project we complete together, I like to reflect on what my son learned. While working on the HahaOne Robot, there were two key skills my son learned:
- The difference between a flat head and Phillips head screwdriver. It seems simple enough, but if a kid never assembles anything that requires a screwdriver, then they won’t learn the difference until they encounter it. I’m kind of ashamed to say I didn’t know the difference until I was much older.
- How to look at the minute details in a 3D drawing. When we were trying to figure out how to attach the hat to the rest of the robot, my son kept looking between the drawing and his robot. He was able to look at the detail of where exactly the pegs were shown to assemble to the robot, a detail I was over looking. What an important skill to develop! Its often easy to assume things will be constructed in an obvious way, but at times they are not. Being able to delve deeper into the details of anything, be it a drawing or written instructions, is an important skill to hone to ensure a job is completed right.I love watching how my son’s mind is changing and growing. I can’t believe he was able to figure out how to add the hat on before I did! Has your child ever out thought you?I’m interested into seeing what other HahaOne Robots might teach my son.
If you enjoyed reading about my son building his robot, you would love some of my other posts about engineering toys! Here are a couple of my favorites!
Teach your child Newton’s First Law of Motion
Toys that Teach Engineering
Tinker Crate: Circuits and Optics
11 Engineering Toys for Girls!
Tinker Crate: Exploring Polymers
An Explosive View of a Dinosaur!