Saturday, 15 February 2014

Makers

Ah, school holidays, how I miss thee. Sure, by the end I had my tongue out as we were running out of viable options to keep our astute son satisfied with, but still – holidays are holidays. Ye who do not have kids may live from one public holiday to another, but us parents mock thee for we get to live from one school holiday to another. If one can call that living.
One way to keep our budding engineer entertained is through various advanced mechanical/electronic contraptions. We seem to have had it all this recent school holiday: RC helicopters, RC cars (dare I add: hobby grade!), electronics assembly kits, Lego Technic, you name it. We even took our slot cars contraption out the closet but never got to it.
Clearly, most if not all of the above proved too advanced for our six year old. Yet the question remains: having now been there and done that, where do we go from here? What could we do next if we want to keep the passion alive?
There are all sorts of avenues to grow to. Most, like Lego Mindstorms or the Scratch programming language are kids oriented but are probably too advanced to be digested by a kid who – in this age of the iPad and the instant gratification that comes with it – is still wondering why he needs to bother to learn how to read in the first place. Thus far his parents are failing to convince him of the merits of reading despite both being avid readers.
Personally, the avenue I would like to find myself expanding to is the one offered by Make Magazine. That is, make my own hobby grade toys, if you like. Recent editions of this now bimonthly magazine pointed me towards drool inducing options such as making my own drone or making various contraptions using Raspberry Pi boards. It’s all very tempting! Sure, the costs of entering this “make” universe are not insignificant, but the dollar per time spent ratio should be much better than most other leisurely activities. The educational benefits, on the other hand, are incomparable.

Me, I live in the real world. I know there is no chance in hell I will get to make my own noodle drone before I get to spend my promised eternity in hell. This directly implies my son and I are destined to spend our years of school holidays together in mediocrity.
Thus, yet again, I arrive at the conclusion I arrived at before: the biggest hurdle between me and a life well worth living is the eight hour working day. Such "normal" days have us run around like headless chickens taking part in the race to drop our son at school, do our time at the office, and then pick the son up from school. By the time we prepare and consume our dinner we are too exhausted to make anything other than make a TV play something to ease the pain with.

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