Sunday, November 23, 2008

Complex toys

Imagine what that block of wood, plastic or rubber would do. Then go ahead and move that block to get it done. That's what the first toys were like. The form the wooden block would take was limited only by the child's imagination. If an adult did not quite see it that way, it is only to be expected. "Grown-ups don't understand", as The Little Prince said. The grown-ups, though began to seek their revenge and impose their understanding, when they began to make the toys more 'realistic': now a battery powered radio controlled model of a P51 Mustang could only be a battery-powered-radio-controlled-model-of-a-P51-Mustang and nothing else.

Which is why this whole business of LEGO Education's toys seems to be a very good thing. In the first place, it gives a lot of control back to the child. In the second place, it keeps the adults off the child, for now the child says 'you don't understand', and the grown-up has to keep quiet, because it is true for most part! In the case of their Mindstorms line of products it is especially true, because they are LEGO blocks powered with software; with 4 different kinds of sensors, they can be built and programmed to carry out different tasks. There was a show last week, where a set of companies associated with robotics education was trying to show how such (and other similar types of) toys could be used to develop kids' interest in robotics.

That may be, but at the show, most of the interest was centred on these bots , one trying to move on the black line and the other trying to knock of the red ball. Robotics or no robotics, the kids had fun with the toys!

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