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Take’Em Apart™ Toys

Let your children learn the joys of discovery
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Many good scientists and engineers took things apart in their youth to find out how they worked.

A quintessential example is the old transistor radio, which almost every budding scientist in those days seemed to have found joy in dissecting and discovering how it works. But these days radios are too complicated and looking at rows of electronics or circuit boards just doesn’t tell a child or adolescent much. So we have fewer good scientists...

What we need is a range of toys called Take’Em Apart™ which encourages children to take apart something and put it back together again. Kind of like a jigsaw, but 3D and more educational. It’s actually education disguised as toys, which is probably every parent’s dream.

A Take’Em Apart™ radio would use the old transistor model and be built to make it especially easy to take apart and put together, but essentially works and functions as a simple radio. If a machine is too complicated to begin with, the Take’Em Apart™ version can be simplied, but should not sacrifice any essential component. The toy package comes with a solution to the problem, including a step-by-step guide to taking apart and rebuilding the device, as well as an explanation of how, and why, it works. But first, the child is encouraged to fiddle with it and make the discoveries by herself.

Even if the child doesn’t end up a scientist or engineer, the education will probably help in later life. As an adult she might need to fix a device, and is likely to find some parts familiar, but more importantly this will inculcate an important value: the joy of scientific discovery and exploration.

baboo, Apr 30 2002

Add-on to this idea More_20than_20Meets_20the_20Eye
"More than Meets the Eye" [paix120, Mar 28 2009]

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       Perhaps better: take apart toys that, once taken apart, still have some play value.  I've noticed that while kids, especially boys, like to take things apart with enthusiasm, not too many like to put things back together.   

       In searching, I notice that there appears to be a class of toys that are referred to as "take apart toys" by pyschologists, toy manufacturers and child-development folks.
bristolz, Apr 30 2002
  

       I like this. As it happens, nearly all of my toys (though not originally designed that way) were "Take 'em apart" toys. As [Bristolz] so astutely points out, nearly none of them ended up as "Put 'em back together" toys. That childhood behavior contributed greatly toward gaining an understanding of how things work which gives me the ability to build and repair things today.
half, Apr 30 2002
  

       Hehehehe. I like the idea, but I'm inclined to say "Let 'em use the real thing". After all, it was good enough for us.
phoenix, Apr 30 2002
  

       Can't have my Amberola 30. The spring is under great tension.
Amishman35, Apr 30 2002
  

       Since I was something of a whiz with Erector sets in my youth, I recall my father asking me as a seven year old if I wanted to build a computer kit...mind you, this was 1960, and even though we socially associated with quite a few super-scientists connected with GE, Sperry Univac and what soon became NASA, the idea of a personally-crafted computer was incomprehensible to me. In retrospect, I suspect that the "computer" that he had in mind was something substantially less capable than the device any of you used as a hand-held calculator in junior high school. I was pretty sure that if rocket science was beyond President Kennedy's brain trust, then computers were beyond mine...even at seven going on eight. I just wanted to build a rocketship that would go to the moon.   

       Nonetheless, Heathkits for creating your own in-home stereo systems (a very new invention) were all the rage, and I remember looking at their dozens of vacuum tubes with indecipherable grids encapsulated in glass, and thinking, I'll never understand how this all goes together and why. So, instead of the computer, Dad did buy me a tuner and amplifier kit, and I did manage to solder and bolt all the bits, bobs, and tubes together into something that actually played music by following the instructions. Aside from the original kit cost, I only blew 4 or 5 house fuses and burned one permanent spot into the rug in my bedroom during the process...All of which seems like a pretty nominal fee to have paid for the experience.   

       I only regret three things: I still don't really understand how a vacuum tube works and the difference between a capacitor and condenser if they aren't marked Part A and Part B; computers are still pretty much beyond my ken; and because of that I didn't give that nerdy guy from Altos Computers fifteen years later the $5,000 he needed to create something he called an "operating system".   

       Hmmmm...Let's buy those kids all the "Take 'Em Apart Toys" we can possibly afford.
jurist, Apr 30 2002
  

       It doesn't matter if they put it together, as long as they realize it's possible. I never put things back together (until they were actually *my* computer, that is), but it was always fascinating to think that it could be done.   

       Excellent idea. Just don't brand them too heavily: "put the fluffy pink bit on top of the shiny green bit, kids!"
sadie, Apr 30 2002
  

       Erector sets are slated to make a huge comeback if all goes well.
thumbwax, Apr 30 2002
  

       // When I was about 8 or so, I took apart my father's lawn tractor or as much of it as I could, anyway. //   

       Knowing you, I bet there wasn't a piece left larger than 4 inches across.   

       I did the same to my brother's stereo equipment.
waugsqueke, Apr 30 2002
  

       "Many good scientists and engineers took things apart in their youth to find out how they worked"
Almost right... Scientists take things apart. Engineers take them apart and put them back together.
Word of advice - those new 'instant coffee in a can' things... don't take them apart in an enclosed space or without a protective covering (preferably a big tray) on the surface. Messy.
sappho, Apr 30 2002
  

       My parents bought me take 'em apart toys when I was young: Garage sale electronics (toasters, radios, etc) and various tools. Some helped the logic process, but the majority were just fun to demolish (which completely supported my career path).   

       Like bris and phoenix said, using items that are cheap and basically garbage (to you), let's them use actual stuff with out getting into too much trouble.   

       Also, you'll never image what a youngster can make from the spare guts of 30 seemingly worthless things. I think this is the prerequisite to the course in mad science.
dag, Apr 30 2002
  

       Baked. Doesn't anyone remember 'Crash Test Dummies' (Not the band). The whole idea of them was to take them apart and put them together again. Then take them apart in an horrific accident. Then put them togehter again. Then take them apart in your Dad's vice. And so on.
[ sctld ], Apr 30 2002
  

       "your Dad's vice." (snicker)
beauxeault, Apr 30 2002
  

       (Mars)
[ sctld ], May 01 2002
  

       My two year old son has a plastic dumper truck which comes apart. You need to use a special screwdriver (chunky and plastic) with an alan key style head that comes with the truck. Basically you can take all the peripheral bits off to leave you with an empty chassis. Then you put it back together again. If you don't want to take it apart - then heh, it's a pretty good dumper truck anyway. He loves it and can already disassemble and reassemble it on his own. The more tak'em apart toys the better I say!
goff, May 01 2002
  

       Can you put 'em back together in new combinations with different sets? What we need is a Frankenstein 'Take 'em Apart' toy; take his head off, bolt it back on where his arm went, ala Mr. Potato Head. Come to think of it, I should add this to my Jr. Mad-Scientist Research Set.
RayfordSteele, May 01 2002
  

       Lego's That come pre-assembled perhaps?
HMav, Sep 20 2002
  

       My 7 year old daughter and I have started a "business" where she (with occasional help from me) takes apart disguarded old computer printers, faxes and copy machines and collects the gears, pullys, belts, motors and switchs for resale to local hobbiest groups. If she wants money to buy something, she spends her time "advertizing" parts to my friends and sometimes on the internet (with my supervision) and I will buy stuff through a friend if I approve of what she is after...   

       Anyway... its a great education in how things work. She spends hours playing with the stuff we get out of them. Yesterday she dissasembled her baby brothers sesame street pop up toy to retrieve a dime that had fallen into it and she actually got it back together and almost working by herself on the first try. She had two of the knobs swapped around but she figured out the error herself and fixed it.   

       Wouldn't have time to any of this if she wasn't homeschooled...
James Newton, Sep 20 2002
  

       Since this was an old post, I created a new idea to expand on it instead of just leaving an anno here with the idea (see link).
paix120, Mar 28 2009
  

       [89t] I have a 1953 Hammond M3 organ sitting not 10 feet away from me that was a total "Rubik's Cube" to disassemble... and even though I've got enough of it working again to put it back together to test it out I can't remember how I took it apart in the first place.
FlyingToaster, Mar 28 2009
  
      
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