Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wallace and Gromit's Workshop

   One of the many joys of being a grandparent is the pleasure gained from repeated viewings of the Wallace and Gromit movies. It’s characteristic of childhood to enjoy doing the same thing over and over and I must admit that I’ll sit and watch Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit with the grandkids even though I’ve seen it a dozen times.
   Wallace and Gromit are our English cousins so while wandering around the British Broadcasting Corporation's web site it wasn't too surprising to find Wallace and Gromit listings. Wallace is famous for his wacky inventions and Gromit is famous for bearing the unintended outcomes of most of those inventions.
   Imagine my excitement when I discovered that the BBC has created a web site designed for kids (of all ages, including 73) to solve mechanical problems. It's called the World of Invention Workshop. To see how easy it is to build machines in the workshop, just watch this short, 3-minute video that will help you and your kids or grand kids get started.
  Here's the link to the workshop. Have the kids click on and they're in.
   As a math and science educator, it's hard to convince teachers and parents that 'problem-solving' is the  most important skill to master for the digital age. Unfortunately, problem-solving doesn't happen much in the traditional curriculum. If physical exercise is good for physical health, and it is, then mental exercise in the form of problem-solving is essential to intellectual growth. Traditional curriculum offers little but physics-based games like Wallace and Gromit's Workshop are engaging and do offer essential mental exercise.
   Many of the problems met in the workshop are challenging. For help, send an email to Have fun and learn at the same time!

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