This Christmas I'm thinking about buying my grandson an Erector Set.

Thread Starter

ThePanMan

Joined Mar 13, 2020
471
This Christmas I'm thinking about buying my grandson an Erector Set; something that may have to do with RC or even with some programming required. Likely the programming part will be beyond him. He's 10.

Anyway, the point of this question is this: I'm seeing a lot of things that don't resonate with me. One key point is "S•T•E•A•M. I know what STEM is; Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. But what's that darn "A" for? Is this something made of chinesium?

Moderators, if the "Off Topic" section still exists, feel free to move it there.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,819
Tell you what, today's erector sets and Lego kits are not the ones I grew up with. Some really cool robotics toys can be built. You got it:
"What is the meaning of STEAM project?
STEAM is an educational approach that incorporates the arts into the more-familiar STEM model, which includes science, technology, engineering and mathematics".

So we just toss in an A for Arts. :)

Ron
 

Thread Starter

ThePanMan

Joined Mar 13, 2020
471
So the "A" is for Arts?

Thought that might be it but I've never seen it put that way before. Got suspicious I was reading something posted by someone who didn't have a thorough command of the English language. They saw STEM and thought of Steam, so they went with STEAM. But arts makes sense now that I hear someone else use that term.

Thanks.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,819
While I get it I haven't a clue what the arts are doing in there. My brother holds a master's of arts degree and all it is good for is teaching the arts at the college level. I fail to see a connection between the arts and STEM.

Not necessarily. Many 10 year olds thoroughly enjoy programming.
I also have to agree on that note. The 8 year old grandson seems quick on the uptake with the very basic fundamentals. Not to say he has a handle on it but he seems to get the command basics. Kids today are pretty quick to catch on to how stuff works. Some are anyway.

Ron
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,764
This is interesting ... the first thing that drew me to technical stuff when I was a kid was its artistic possibilities ... heck, I didn't want to build practical and useful things ... I wanted to build fancy and beautiful things!

I was drawn to mechanical gadgets such as binary clocks and animatronic displays. So yeah, the artistic side of me kept on pushing the technical side. And it turned out to be a win-win situation.

So STEAM it is... a rather good idea, I must say.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,453
I am sure your grandson will get endless pleasure from a gift like that. I was 7 years old when WW2 ended and metal toys were still not available in Britain. My two uncles were still abroad in the armed forces. For Christmas that year, I received my most memorable Christmas gift ever; my youngest uncle's old Meccano set, complete with wheels, gears, chain drives and pulleys. It gave me the opportunity to make just about anything I wanted to and I am sure that it helped immensely to develop my creative skills, I still have it and still create with it:

Mec 002.jpg
 

Thread Starter

ThePanMan

Joined Mar 13, 2020
471
When I was seven years old I took my dad's gas powered lawn mower apart. Particularly the engine. Wanted to know how it worked. Dad explained the four cycles and demonstrated how things worked. I don't remember how old I was when I got my first Erector set, nor do I recall its name. But I do remember playing with the motor and transmission unit to drive things up and down like a crain. Made windmills and roller coasters, what limited track could be built with the parts at hand. I remember the tiny screws and square nuts, the screwdriver and wrench. It was hours of fun. I went on to build my own mini-bike. Have the scars to prove it. What a blast it all was.

Yeah, think I'll get it for him. My only concern is the small parts and choking hazard. He has three younger brothers and a younger sister. Also being the oldest, he's the one who gets into trouble the most. Not because of his age but because of the lack of experience his father has (son-in-law). My daughter is more balanced and usually interceeds to keep the peace and keep him growing in a proper manor for a young man his age. Yes, I'm proud of my daughter and grand children. I just don't want the younger ones choking on something because you KNOW kids get into everything.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,443
When I was seven years old I took my dad's gas powered lawn mower apart. Particularly the engine. Wanted to know how it worked. Dad explained the four cycles and demonstrated how things worked. I don't remember how old I was when I got my first Erector set, nor do I recall its name. But I do remember playing with the motor and transmission unit to drive things up and down like a crain. Made windmills and roller coasters, what limited track could be built with the parts at hand. I remember the tiny screws and square nuts, the screwdriver and wrench. It was hours of fun. I went on to build my own mini-bike. Have the scars to prove it. What a blast it all was.

Yeah, think I'll get it for him. My only concern is the small parts and choking hazard. He has three younger brothers and a younger sister. Also being the oldest, he's the one who gets into trouble the most. Not because of his age but because of the lack of experience his father has (son-in-law). My daughter is more balanced and usually interceeds to keep the peace and keep him growing in a proper manor for a young man his age. Yes, I'm proud of my daughter and grand children. I just don't want the younger ones choking on something because you KNOW kids get into everything.
You can maximize safety by agreeing that he is only to play with his toy in a safe place. His room, the garage or the kitchen (with the cooks permission). The idea is to restrict small parts to a controlled area away from major traffic.

As an aside, my grandmother lived next door to us. My Dad said I could have an Erector set, if I paid for half of it. I earned my half by emptying my grandmother’s trash every day and she paid me a dime. It took me forever (so it seemed), but I was so proud when I earned my half.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,060
I've heard a lot of complaints about the "A" contaminating the STEM subjects but, I've worked on lots parts, modules and complete products that were designed by stylists/industrial designers and engineers had to convert their sketches to real, manufacturable devices. Curves were eliminated, colors were changed, backlights weren't diffused, and the end product looked like it was designed by an engineer - and it was. The success on the retail shelf was a disaster.

Look at a vehicle that you think is "beautiful" and then imagine how many conversations, debates and redesigns were involved in getting the designer to draw something that could be stamped, molded, etc and manufactured efficiently while still looking like something people want to buy (better than the competition at a similar price). Paint and plastic formulators are typically chemists but holding a deep understanding of color theory, texture, light and reflections are keys to success.

I could go in about computer interfaces, audio system integration, and more where art and science/engineering collide. Beauty in design, color, texture is important in many engineering and science jobs.
 
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