Friday, April 20, 2007

Mommy and Me Lego

Iris, her friend and I went to Mr. B's Bricks after school today to play with Legos. Iris and her friend built counter-balanced drawbridges. Iris was the youngest child in the class (6, 7 and 9 year olds in that session) and also the least experienced. She asked for my help and I went over to her table.

The instructor on duty, Mr. Ken B (Mr. Aaron B's partner), intercepted me. He said that the point of the class was for kids to explore on their own without parental intervention. He gave me my own Lego Mindstorms kit and sat me down at a table at the other end of the classroom.

Whee! I set to work immediately to build my own counter-balanced drawbridge. With my limited eyesight and Lego experience, I made a couple of mistakes. The 9 year old boy next to me, working on a more complex project, kept trying to help me. I politely told him to let me explore on my own. ;-)

Ken's teaching style was wonderful, the way that he never told any of us what we did wrong. He lead us through a series of questions until we figured it out on our own.

Once we completed the basic bridge setup, Ken extended the bridge and told us to rebalance the mechanism. Iris' friend did the popular solution; he added length to the lever arm on the counterweight end. He did this instinctively without any pictures or instructions to lead him.

I moved the pivot point around. At first, I moved it in the wrong direction and then made iterative adjustments, one notch at a time. Even then, the balance wasn't quite right; I needed a pivot point between two holes. Then I added a brick on the underside of the weighted brick and got it just right. It turns out, I made the alternate, less popular solution. It hadn't occurred to either of us, that there were other solutions. We were all so focused on our own work.

Iris completed her basic bridge, but did not have enough time for the extension exercise. We both agreed this would be our mommy and me Friday afternoon activity from now on. It didn't occur to me until after dinner that, next Friday afternoon, I would be on a plane flying from DC to home. I guess Mark could take her, but then I would miss Lego class.

Mr. Anton (site works in IE or Safari, but not in Firefox) charges for both the parent and child in his Mommy and Me Tae Kwon Do class. Mr. B's Bricks charges only for the child in the class. That's a bargain.

If you look at Anton Kasabov's modeling portfolio on his website, you will discover why his Mommy and Me TKD class is so popular. ;-) That's not completely fair. It is obvious that he teaches for the love of children and TKD. He earns his main income elsewhere.

Mr. Anton's students will be giving a demonstration at Polliwog park this Sunday at 3 pm. Weather permitting, Iris will be there. Maybe you will get to see her break a board with her roundhouse kick this time. She says she is nervous; she fears she won't live up to her performance last time.

We got weather and more might be on its way this Sunday. It actually rained 0.32" today, yippee! See the 24 hour rainfall data at CNRFC-AWIPS.

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