Toys that Stimulate Interest in Science

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by psychostasis, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. psychostasis Registered Member


    Could you recommend me any online toy shop of this kind?

    I think making toys is perhaps one of the most important human works: it stimulates the child brain from 2 years onwards.

    Believe that the innate toys are those that realistically recreate the evolution of science and technology, and are also able to stimulate imagination at the same time.

    I came up with these ideas:

    1. A software that works as an hyper realistic virtual laboratory, able to recreate most mathematical concepts and mathematical discoveries through 3D images. Inspired by Math Made Visual: Creating Images for Understanding Mathemathics by Roger Nelsen, and Principia Mathematica by Bertrand Russell.

    2. A computer program of the same type mentioned above, able to recreate 3D images of the biggest mistakes and misunderstandings of science and technology: the zeppelin, thalidomide, the cosmological constant, etc

    3. A computer program of the same type, able to recreate realistic chemical experiments.

    krash661, Plazma Inferno! and ajanta like this.
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  3. Edont Knoff Registered Senior Member

    I don't understand why it should be a computer program? Somewhen during childhood my interest in chemistry showed and my parents bought me several "mini labs", much like the product shown here:

    It was very interesting for me, and fairly safe, too. A computer program may be able to show colors and play sounds, but it can't reproduce the smells, or any haptic experience. Several gases have very characteristic smells, also many fluids. I think this is part of the experience, and someone who only "toyed" with chemistry at the computer will be very differently trained from someone who did the "real thing" - there are really many ways to screw up experiments, and while a simulation probably simulates the right way and a few sorts of failures that is something else than frantically stopping some liquid spraying from an apparatus which was malconstructed and now threatens to spoil the whole lab.

    I think that physics, chemistry, as well as electric and mechanical engineering should be done with real toys and not software. I was lucky that my dad supplied me with almost everything possible to dabble in those fields, and all that I can recommend is that you do the same with your children - if they show interest in a field, make it possible from them to go experimenting there. Surely, have an eye on it, since some things are dangerous, but also let the children make their mistakes - the mistakes are probably more helpful in learning than anything else.

    Sidenode: Imagine cooking without a kitchen and without the chance to smell and taste the product. It's not really cooking if it's only done in the computer. Same for the things that I listed above - physics, chemistry and it's applications like electric and mechanical engineering need some real life experience to be complete.

    PS: I am a professional software developer since more than 15 years. I still don't recomment a simulation toy for this sort of experimentation. It needs the "real thing".
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  5. ajanta Registered Senior Member

    He came up with these ideas for virtual laboratory. But real laboratory is better than virtual and may be sometimes real chemical laboratory does harm to children.
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  7. Edont Knoff Registered Senior Member

    I surely burned my fingers and had some other accidents. Some amount of harm is helpful to learn to be more careful next time. Holes in the clothes are nice reminders that some acids are actually dangerous (skin seems to be tougher than textiles at times ...)

    The only question is, how parents can let their children make the "little mistakes" that hurt a little but serve very well as warnings, and avoid the "big mistakes" that leave permanent damage.

    But I'm all in favour of letting children learn about dangers by themselves. Life is dangerous. It's good to learn early what sort of problems you can deal with, what you can take, and where your limits are and what better not to do.

    Avoiding all harm and danger leads to people who are helpless, crippled by fear - many dangers can be handled, and knowing how to hande them keeps you able to act, while fear paralyses you.

    PS: This is also a point why a simulation must be complimented by some real life experience. It can't let a child experience a problem, and learn how to handle it. You can't grab a falling glowing tube, you can't pick something that fell into hot acid with your hands. Once you were in that situation and frantically looked for a solution, you'll be very careful next time that it doesn't happen again - I don't think a simulation can teach this as well as mistakes in real experiements.
  8. ajanta Registered Senior Member

    once I used a straw and my mouth to refill water and H2SO4 to little lead acid battery of torch light but it was bad idea, I did this because this acid(with water) was not powerful but then I didn't know about the bad effect of lead also. This liquid entered my mouth and I have many experience of electric shocks.
  9. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Firstly, why? I mean, why simulate science? I think it's better to let children free-play and for the most part this involves them coloring and being read to. However, if you want them to learn science, then it's best if YOU do science. Children learn through observation, thus, if you do science, then they'll do science.

    I'd also make a mention regarding the role of argumentation. Science is a specific type of argument: general induction. I'm not really sure that it can be 'modeled' in a computer. Technology generally uses a different type of argument - although it can indeed overlap. Lastly, computer programming almost exclusively relies on deduction.

    Modeling the correct types of behaviors and teaching good thinking skills (which means learning them and applying them) is probably the best.

    Lastly, if at all possible, I'd strongly suggest not putting any child before the age of 4 into a long-term day care facility. I'd also strongly suggest a lot of personal time between child and parent, skin to skin contact is essential towards developing a properly functioning somatosensory cortex - which may provide resilience towards the development of ED. Most importantly, parents should never hit, and if possible never yell at their children. Explain in reasoned sentences - even if the child doesn't fully comprehend. Model the correct behavior. Remove the word 'no' from your vocabulary in order to force yourself to find the right explanation rather than use a command to illustrate the correct way to apply reasoning.

    Oh, and there's plenty of DIY science on YouTube that can be a lot more fun with a parent than buying a kit. Although the kits can be fun too.
  10. trevor borocz johnson Registered Senior Member

    I had toys when I was a kid. Torn up pieces of leaves that looked like wallpaper would keep me going for hours. That was all I needed not fancy like the op but things we made. A wall covered in leaves, leaves in books, that's what fun is.
  11. psychostasis Registered Member

    In my opinion, laboratory chemicals are dangerous for smart children of 4-5 years old, gets everything dirty, and the possible combinations are limited. In addition, the non-virtual chemicals are exhausted soon.
    krash661 likes this.
  12. Edont Knoff Registered Senior Member

    4 or 5 deems me too young to dabble in chemistry. They need to have a basic understanding of math, and need to be able to read. Before these skills come, chemical experiments are for the show but meaningless otherwise.

    Dangerous, yes, can be, but that's why parents should be there as guides.
  13. psychostasis Registered Member

    Some children of this age are different, they are early, and easily bored. They demand much more quality stimuli.
    krash661 likes this.
  14. psychostasis Registered Member

    It depends on how complex and realistic the program is. It would be a toy ''all in one''.

    Although that would not be in the toy industry's interest, who bore children with transformers, and incite them to buy new models indefinitely.

    With software you could save money and time.

    Children are reluctanct to keep toys tidy.

    In addition, children demand stimuli constantly and when there are no other children of his age around, adults have to entertain them, and adults only enjoy toys which possible combinations to create new structures are unlimited, for example, the Lego Minecraft of 2000 pieces.
  15. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

    another thought-- at what point will adults dabble with it?
    I love your idea and think you should pursue it no matter what anyone here says.
    kudos to you.
  16. psychostasis Registered Member

    I am wanting to buy a toy '' all in one ''

    Not a software but a physical set with multiple pieces.

    For example: a set of physics experiments, including a very complete and labyrinthine set of rolling balls, connectable, expandable, with a wide variety of ball sizes, with a huge spiral type Maelstrom, long paralell zigzag rails for measuring and comparing acceleration, perpetuum mobile magnets, gyroscopes, etc.

    Also including several free energy experiments, electrical conduction, impedance, electrostatic, hydrodynamic experiments, various lenses for decomposition of light, decomposition of the electromagnetic spectrum, hologram, telescope lenses adjustable, etc.

    Containing all the macro physics until today, that can be incorporated into a single toy.

    I found the rolling balls, perpetuum movile magnets, gyroscopes, etc on youtube sites, but it seems that these experiments are not for sell.
    And I can't find it ''all in one''.

    Sciencetoystore: levitating Earth, levitating toys.
    Wasaby Sajado (youtube): free energy magnet motor fan, hologram, free energy helicopter...
    Synaesynth: color to sound conversion instrument.
  17. psychostasis Registered Member

    Children need the affection of an adult and not to feel ''the tiniest'' but an ''small adult'' feel that adults approve them, and recognize their talent.

    When I had 9 years old I was bored terribly with 30 transformers, with Legos of less than 2000 pieces, with the hotwheels city, etc, etc
    I always hated all the toy stores!

    Do not understand why stores sell toys not useful to decipher our fascinant cosmos.
  18. psychostasis Registered Member

    I agree, but conventional toys tend to bore the children too soon, for that reason the kids are always asking to buy them more toys.

    I think there are three key ideas that you have not discussed:

    1. a single toy ''all in one'',
    2. a Lego ''of the highest complexity possible''
    3. the ''unlimited creations possible"

    I would love to buy an extraordinarily sophisticated Lego, designed by mathematicians and experts in robotics, able to assemble all imaginable forms of useful robots: a robot drone with incorporated camera able to buy a soda at the shop in front, a robot able to answer your cell phone, micro-robots spider spies, etc.

    That limitless potential could be applied to a software for visual mathemathics and molecular-level chemical expriments too.

    The price could be exorbitant, but over time it could diminish.
  19. psychostasis Registered Member

    They are called Rolling Balls Sculptures. See Hypno Spiral Rolling Ball Scolpture by WeR1sculptures (youtube).
  20. Bells Staff Member

    Why science though? Is this because they are interested in it or because you want to steer them that way?

    You could just buy lego packs and let them create, destroy, create, destroy, and so on and so forth to their heart's content. Instead of buying something they won't be able to actually play with and take apart and put together as they want to put together (imagination is key to childhood development and free play is vital), especially for something with robotics with cameras and the like.. They are small children, yes? They will just want to pull it apart and build a rocket or whatever. Yes, the first 5 minutes they'll ooh and ahh at the cool lego robot, but within a few minutes, they'll want to pull it apart and build something they want to build (been there done that with my kids who are now 9 and 10 and are much into science and mathematics). If you want high complexity with lego, buy a Lego death star. If you aren't a puddle on the floor at the end of it, you've done well and then you can hide your tears as they be kids and pull it apart to build what they want to build. Wooden blocks are also great simply because they can build and design stuff and they do.

    If they are 4-5, interest in science is taking them outside, experience nature, answer their questions and/or ask them questions about what they can see, touch, smell, feel or even taste. And playing with them. Buy a cheap telescope, take them outside at night before bedtime and look at the moon, the stars, spot the ISS as it flies past (they have a schedule and you can see when it will be passing you and at what time and for how long)..

    You can buy some magnets, even the cheap ones can do and attach them to a glass table and let them have fun. Or better yet, buy them a small fish tank. My kids can rattle off information about water ph levels for whatever fish, shrimp or snail, how temperature affects it and the fish, shrimp or snail, about hard or soft water, how magnets work, how plants grow, how much CO2 and light is needed or necessary for premium plant growth but not algae growth. They could do that by the time they were 6. Why? Because they were keenly interested in it.

    And that's key. Find what the kids are interested in and take it from there. They might not be even interested in "science" yet. They will be interested in a variety of other things, like animals, and stuff. Do what interests them. Not you. Just let them be kids.

    Chemistry wise, learn to make glue, like the non-toxic paper glue.. or more to the point, you help them do it and allow them to understand the process by experiencing it and then playing with it. Add dye to it, see how the dye interacts. Simple things that they can directly relate to and most importantly, can use in some way afterwards for fun stuff like art, but even more importantly, that they are interested in. Let them help you make mash potato, and explain to them how and why the potato is hard when raw and then soft and can be mashed when boiled and cooked. Buy those little balls that expand when left in water and put it in their bath - hours of fun to be had there. Or buy the ones for the garden, put them in a bucket and let them play with it - way hours of fun to be had there.

    Buying them chemical sets they will find tricky to understand and which could require close supervision to use or even have them just watching as you do it, isn't really playing for that age. I just don't see the point of that.

    If you want educational toys with a leaning for science and are fun to use, National Geographic shop is one option. They have stuff for all age groups and are fun for a short while.

    But seriously, you're better off taking the kids to the park or the beach as much as you can and outside in the yard and playing with them. Reading to them a few times a day, talking to them and answering their questions and doing things with them on their level.. As Michael said, if you want them to be interested in science, then they will learn that from you and what you do in front of them. I'd forgo the expensive science kids and chemistry kits. Just take them outside and buy cheap lego kits and let them build if they are into that or paint and draw and make art, if they are into that.
  21. psychostasis Registered Member

    When I visit a toy store I realize that these toys bore quickly, as if they were designed to never stop consuming more.

    There is nothing wrong with comsuming more, what disappoints me is that these toys: Star Wars characters, Transformers, remote control aircrafts etc, does not stimulate their creativity, nor are educational.

    I have arrived to the conclusion that entertainment becomes unlimited only when the Lego or Meccano allows the child to create their own toys (all the ideas conceivable), their own models of robots, aircrafts, trains, etc, and when the toy is a set ''all in one'' for physical experiments that allows children to discover unsuspected things through creating their own experiments (all the ideas conceivable).

    And this can only be achieved when the toys are designed by brilliant mathematicians and scientists.

    A few months ago I bought several Legos, and I was excited because I wanted to teach the child how to build a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex articulated (20 cm, almost identical to the original), also wanted to teach him how to build an articulated Terminator (20 cm, almost identical to the original), a Porsche, a Lamborghini, a Monster Truck, an Aircraft's Stealth, a Bullet Train, an Aerion SBJ, etc.

    See: Lego Terminator 2 robot motorized by piotrek839 (youtube). Amazing, almost identical to the original!

    I realized it was impossible to build all the ideas conceivable.

    They can only be done with plasticine.

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  22. psychostasis Registered Member

    You have given me very good ideas, thank you.

    The child is three years and eight months, but is very observant, doesn't miss a single detail, learns very quickly and is easily bored.
    Has an amazing sense of humor.

    Wants to play with me daylong, tirelessly.

    Always wants me to show him unusual toys and experiments.

    You have given me very good ideas, thank you very much
  23. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

    A plastic earth globe got me interested in science, and when at that time, a cousin told me that if I (a toy soldier) missed the earth on my way back from the moon, I would travel forever and ever and not hit anything. That got me thinking. Yes, I know that's not really right, but we were kids and it stuck with me.
    just saying, like.

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