1. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    How to turn children into mad scientists?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Smoke, Apr 22, 2011.

    This isn't a hypothetical question. I'm in charge of buying the christmas gifts for the nephews, and I really want to drive them to someday build a battle robot or a rube-goldberg device or something else really cool someday. They're preschoolers right now, one is 4 and the other going on 2. It's going to be a decade before I buy them power tools for christmas, of course, but now is the perfect time to start laying the groundwork for my evil plan.

    What would be some ideas to pursue?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    cooking utensils - serious that and gardening tools - my boys are well on their way to mad scientists with both at 4 and 2 - the beautiful 'mud' paint I now have to clean off my door was todays effort.
     
  3. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    Well my aunt worked in a hospital when I was little and she got me proper beakers, syringes, (without the sharp bits) gloves. Although that might be mad chemistry.
     
  4. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Hehe. Mad chemistry is fine. Anarchist's cookbook is a bit too explodey, but the only thing I have against the vinegar and baking soda experiment is that somehow my uncles managed to get glass shrapnel in the front and back doors simultaneously while trying it. (I should get them to write down the stories about how they should not have survived childhood.)
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The big size Lego (they may choke on the normal size), those toys with shapes you have to post in the correct hole, play doh, toys to play with in the bath or paddling pool where you pour water in and out...You can borrow it to play with sometimes, I guarantee hours of fun in the tub.
    Mind you, I got my three girls these kinds of things and none of them are scientists...
    But all of them are very good at spacial and 3-D thinking, creating models and so on--they are all designers, or studying to be.
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh my gosh. Be my uncle! It's not too late. :D
     
  7. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Last christmas, I got the older one a book with a bunch of "lego technic" designs and the pieces to build them. (Dad said that he already had the smaller-size legos.) The younger one got something a bit more durable, some motorized gears that stick to the refridgerator.

    It's honestly going to be a narrow line between stuff that's going to stimulate their minds and stuff they can actually hurt themselves with.
     
  8. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dodgy haircuts and gratuitous eye-glasses.
    Avoid sporty paraphernalia.
     
  9. TheGreatNeechi
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    TheGreatNeechi Member

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    Mmmm.. vintage copies of Mister Wizard?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Today's mad scientist youth is the malicious hacker. Typically antisocial, resentful of authority, and occasionally briklliant in their malice. So get them into logic games and simple programming. They're a bit young now, but get them interested in computers. Put little barriersbefore them that they can get around, like passwording the account with passwords they can guess, and give them mixed messages when they succeed in breaking in (mild disapproval mixed with pride in their accomplishment).

    Of course, the scariest mad scientists of today are the drug and explosives chefs, better mayhem through chemistry. But everyone is so paranoid today about chemicals and chemistry that it's hard for a kid to get excited about learning it as it was when I grew up (a chemistry set under every Christmas tree).
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every modern home is a chemistry, physics and biology set. I have chemicals in my bathroom, kitchen, cleaning cupboard, house is full of electrics. The garden has plants, flora, fauna etc - today my children and I learned how to commit genocide when we sprayed flies with bleach, vinegar and dish soap. We have made an erupting volcano out of a plastic bottle, paper, flour, water, food colouring, bicarb and vinegar - we managed to kill a couple of lego men in the attempt. We melted chocolate and made nests out of cornflakes for easter. My sons dug holes and found all kinds of bugs which we looked up in a book. Then we learned about energy and forward motion whilst trying to get my middle child to pedal his bicycle. We made bubbles in the bath using bath foam, washed hair. Saw the boiling effect it has on Mummy when one covers the bathroom in powder mixed with water and toothpaste. Then as aforementioned made 'mud' paint coloured and decorated with flowers and glitters and used it to paint the back door - again discovering all about boiling points. Oh and we boiled some eggs for our supper.

    Plastic bottles, wooden spoons etc have made a great weather station.
     
  12. TheGreatNeechi
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    TheGreatNeechi Member

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    Fine, fine, I confess.

    My Dad is a civil engineer. He used to bring home all sorts of things, and occasionally he'd bring home PVC (polyvinyl-chloride) tubing and pipe.

    You want a mad scientist child? Teach them how to burn PVC and make dioxin, just evacuate the house before they get started.
     
  13. Smoke
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    Hacking really isn't my thing. The menfolk are the geeks, including their father. I guess when I think mad scientist, I'm still stuck in those old movies from the 50's... that or post-apocalyptic worlds where you're lucky if you are using 50's technology.

    There's an old science toy that's still available. It's called a hydro-dynamics set. I think I'll hit the hardware store and see if I can do it for cheaper if they have to make the support structures out of their legos.

    That, or maybe a grab-bag of LED's and motors. The older one could make simple robots out of paper.
     

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