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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Robotic New Year

The new year brings such hopes of hitherto unknown productivity.

I'll call 2009 a success: We've done Boxing Day and voluntarily donated some toys for the first time ever. Well, the boys donated some of their toys; I haven't quite managed to separate myself from my collection. We've also done a family, multi-hundred piece puzzle and nearly finished two gear/circuit board/gear box type robots. If anything else productive happens this year, I'll call it icing.

This picture shows the current state of Rowan's robot. We should have it finished this week. Its motion is programmable via a black and white, two-ringed disk. I can't wait; Rowan isn't quite as impatient and likes playing with the gears and experimenting with the various ratios. We should have it finished this week.

Kai's neon purple, wheeled robot is totally completed and merrily running into walls, then reversing and turning to run into another wall. If it hears a shrill-voiced child scream, "STOP! STOP! STOP! STOP! STOP!" it will also change direction. I bet you can imagine, with sympathetic pain and very little effort, the happy and barely-tolerated decibel spikes puncturing our frontal lobes.

We try to remember that the screaming is the result of an educational activity. That lasts about two minutes, then we reach for the remote and speed dial the Cartoon Network.
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Matt Dick said...

Did you give them this gift? If so, then I will say that I *do* know what you're talking about, but I am not sympathetic--you did it to yourself after all.

Have you ever had the Phonics Bus? The Phonics Bus is the worst, most horrible toy ever invented. If you have friends you hate, buy their toddlers the Phonics Bus.

I have one, and I'm just waiting for the right level of hate before I re-gift it to some poor sap's kids.


Hypatia said...

Of course I gave them the gift. However, I fully expected them to get bored right away -- and then I could play with it!

We have a ton of those kinds of toys. We quickly developed the rule: no volume control, no go. I quickly became an expert at putting in wads of cotton balls, covering speakers with duct tape, and super-gluing volume knobs at the lowest setting. My dad suggested I solder in some resisters. Way too much trouble ... but it would be fun to hack a lot of these things.

Happily, we have passed recommended ages for many of these kinds of "educational" products. I am gleefully packing up evil toys and donating (read "infesting") them.

I keep thinking that somewhere out there, there must exist some family that really likes these toys.